Annual Day of Impact Event Brings Students Together to Give Back to Local Community

Feb 11, 2021

by Princess DeSuze
Intern, Office of PR & Marketing
Photos by Alexis Gettemy, Communications Intern

The challenges of COVID-19 have led to many cancellations and rescheduled events, but one significant celebration for the Florida Southern College community went on as planned; the entire first week of February was devoted to honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his continuing impact in our culture.

kidsPACK project
The kidsPACK organization works with local schools to provide food for disadvantaged children. Volunteers play an important role in the packaging of those meals; kidsPACK currently has more than 1,000 volunteers in the Lakeland area.

Most events took place in a virtual format, but an annual Day of Impact service project that reflects one of Dr. King’s most deliberate initiatives — a sense of community — was held outdoors in FSC’s Badcock Garden on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

As in previous years, Florida Southern partnered with kidsPACK, Inc., a Lakeland-based nonprofit organization that provides meals for disadvantaged children. More than 5,000 children in the Polk County School System are registered as homeless, with one in five children considered to be food insecure. The mission of kidsPACK is to bridge the gap between Friday and Monday, when some children do not have food available to them at home.

When local schools transitioned to a complete remote-learning format in spring 2020, kidsPACK faced all-new challenges. Working with the local schools and more than 1,000 volunteers, the organization was able to continue feeding 1,700 children during the coronavirus pandemic.

About 100 student volunteers participated in the kidsPACK event, making time to give back to their community by packaging meals to be distributed to local children in need. Lauren Outler, FSC’s multicultural coordinator, noticed that the event felt more personal this year.

“Even though the numbers were smaller, students were more present and engaged,” Outler said. “During a usual semester, hundreds of students attend the kidsPACK event. Rows of tables would be set up in the George W. Jenkins Field House, where half the arena is used for packing lunches. Fortunately, they were still able to pack at least 350 boxes, which is close to the average amount they have boxed before.”

The event had gone through a few changes to adhere to safe physical distancing requirements. Students who wished to participate signed up in advance for 30-minute shifts, and all volunteers wore masks, cleaned stations after each shift, and packed lunches at one table instead of the many rows of tables from earlier years. These changes did not stop students from wanting to help in any way they could.

“It’s good to provide for the unsung hero,” said Allen Shorey, a junior who has been volunteering with kidsPACK every month, along with 15 of his Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity brothers.

FSC’s kidsPACK community service project was part of a weeklong campus celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which included a virtual keynote speaker, faculty spotlight videos, and more.

kidsPACK images