Since the end of March two Mount Aloysius faculty members and three students have handed out more than 350 care packages of food to local families.
“The college’s mission and values of the Sisters of Mercy are to serve the community and we’re trying to do what we can to give back,” Mount Director of Mission and Ministry Brianna Baker said.
Baker and her coworker Amy Kanich, Mount Director of Campus Ministry, have been working with students Ava Myers, of Gallitzin, and Ashlee Parrish, of Northern Cambria, along with Corrin Dagiston, of Hazelton, to provide extra food during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team of five has been aligning their deliveries, while following state health department guidelines, with scheduled food pickups at area schools.
Over the last few weeks the group has been showing up with packages that contain items such as ramen, mac and cheese cups, fruit cups, Nutri-Grain bars and more to give to families as they get their children’s meals.
“When we show up with additional food you can tell they are really thankful,” Parrish said.
Since starting, Penn Cambria, Cambria Heights and Northern Cambria school districts have all received donations along with All Saints Catholic School in Cresson.
Baker said what inspired this project was a desire to continue to help the community even though the campus is currently closed.
When she heard about the schools in the state having to close, Baker said she knew food would be an issue.
Efforts were then made to reach out to principals and superintendents and those that were contacted were excited by the help.
Initially, the food was bought through the college, Baker said, but now the group is able to rely on donations.
She added that a lot of people have been reaching out to help their efforts.
“It’s nice to see how everyone is coming together,” Myers said.
The college’s food service provider, SAGE, has also assisted with the food drive by donated produce, such as vegetables and fruit, snacks and drinks for the group to hand out.
Baker said they took the assorted food items and made up more care packages.
That donation has benefitted more than 20 local families.
But this project hasn’t just benefited area students.
Myers and Parrish agreed that though they are grateful for the opportunity to help their communities, they’ve also enjoyed being able to get out of the house for awhile.
However, due to the spread of the coronavirus the group has taken a week off from their charity work, Parrish said, but plans on starting up again this coming week.
They also plan on expanding their reach.
The next school on the list is Blacklick Valley.
Parrish added that because schools are closed for the rest of the academic year, she expects the group will continue to expand and try to help as many districts as possible.
“If we could do good during this time, we could have an impact on our community,” she said.