FSC Students and Faculty Apply Service Learning to Farmworker Ministry
LAKELAND (Jan. 12, 2009) -- Florida Southern students, faculty and staff did the work of angels for farmworker children and their families over the holidays.
The College community got involved with farmworker families through the Farmworkers Ministry, which sponsored a Welcome Back Party and free health screening event at a Lakeland church in November for about 500 migrant workers and their families. Faculty members Dr. Claudia Slate of the English Department; Dr. Marcia Posey from the Nursing Department; and Dr. Patricia Suppes and Dr. José Garcia from the Modern Languages Department organized 30 students to check blood pressures and translate family members’ Christmas wish lists.
“At the fair, some of the Spanish students translated the children’s wishes, asking what they wanted and what they needed,” said Dr. Slate, director of the Student Awareness Generates Action (SAGA) initiative. “Last year the children said things like ‘food’ and ‘blankets,’ so this year we really encouraged them to name a toy they would like and also got their clothing sizes. That really personalized it for the students.”
In December, 60 students from FSC’s Division of Education fulfilled the gift requests for 16 families with 50 children. Student Life staffers Amanda Davis and Robin Vansacik also sponsored a family.
“Our students were so responsive,” Slate said. “In the Education Division, they asked who wanted a Christmas angel, and they just responded wonderfully. I got three carloads of gifts.”
On Jan. 4, known as Three Kings Day, Drs. Slate, Suppes, Posey, and Risdon Slate, and student Lauren McNicol helped distribute gifts to more than 500 children at a migrant center in Mulberry.
McNicol, an education senior from Lakeland, said she took an “angel” with a child’s wishes on it when one of her professors explained the project in class. And because she was in town over the holidays, she volunteered to help give out gifts. “It was really cool, because you could see the expressions on the kids’ faces, and they were all having such a good time,” she said. “It makes you realize that’s what Christmas is all about.”
SAGA is a campuswide collaborative initiative designed to enhance students’ learning experience and ability to make a positive impact on society. The SAGA emphasis for 2008-2010 is on hunger and poverty issues.