Volunteers pack thousands of meals during UPC event

Students prepare to package bags of food for Cats' Cupboard at the Purple Pride Pantry Party Union Program Council Event in Manhattan, Kan. on Nov. 27, 2017. (Photo by Mary Kate Zach | Collegian Media Group)

Volunteers joined forces with the Union Program Council and the Outreach Program to load thousands of meal packages during the Purple Pride Pantry Party in the Student Union Monday evening.

The UPC partnered with the Outreach Program, a nonprofit based in Iowa that helps programs around the U.S. package and distribute food, and Cats’ Cupboard in recruiting volunteers for the event to prepare nonperishable breakfasts and lunches to those in need. Volunteers sorted, measured, sealed and packaged food items that will be distributed at Cats’ Cupboard and in areas affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

At the end of the night, 20,000 packaged meals were split evenly between Cats’ Cupboard and the Outreach Program for transport to reputable businesses and food banks.

Beth Bailey, director of programs for the UPC, said the Purple Pride Pantry Party was UPC’s first philanthropic event.

“Normally we do small events weekly and big ones monthly,” said Alex Maynard, vice president for membership at UPC and senior in communication sciences and disorders. “We bring a lot of people to KSU, like Kevin Hart, but this is something where we can give back to our community and get a lot of people involved, while also giving them volunteer hours they need.”

Laura Apel, UPC president and senior in hospitality management, said the council’s last president, who was in Texas when Hurricane Harvey hit, encouraged the event.

“It’s a really good experience for college kids to help those within and without their community,” said Kate King Hagen, UPC vice president of operations and senior in management. “It helps them remember there is a world outside of our little community at KSU.”

Volunteers signed up in shifts to set up the event, sort food, pack and then clean up. Each shift was comprised of 50 to 60 people, Bailey said. Volunteers wrote encouraging notes to go with the packaged food after they were finished.

Mackenzie Smith, sophomore in apparel and marketing, volunteered for the event. Smith said philanthropic events help students to experience things they may not have otherwise.

Jasmine Gray, sophomore in human resources, also helped out Monday evening.

“It’s the holidays,” Gray said. “It’s the time to give to others and help out.”

Bailey said the Outreach Program provided everything to host the event, except the space, tables and volunteers.