Student organizes winter clothing drive with MOVE support

Lara Scott, director of the community service arm within Edmundite Campus Ministry, says students like Sam Belanger '23 impress her with their initiative and big hearts; recent Farm work and upcoming Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week also on the fall semester's volunteer and activism radar

November 11, 2021
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer

The new pressing circumstances of the pandemic have not stopped the student volunteers and leaders of MOVE within Edmundite Campus Ministry at Saint Michael’s College from doing what they do best – helping others in the surrounding community and beyond.

In fact, present realities make such outreach more needed, those in MOVE say.  Sam Belanger ’23, an environmental science major from Lee, N.H. and active MOVE member, found himself inspired to do something about it when he read a social media post describing a growing need around Winooski for warm clothing, from an organization called Winooski Mutual Aid, an informal neighbor-helping-neighbor group.

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Sam Belanger ’23

Lara Scott, the MOVE Office director, says Belanger “popped into my office a few weeks ago and asked if it was something MOVE could support.” She says that MOVE leaders “work hard to support things when our people identify a need and feel they can help, so we worked with him and in the course of a week, he organized a drive that was incredibly successful. By the end, each of us brought a carload of things down the hill; we saw a lot of response in the Saint Michael’s community from employees to the Chapel worshipping community, and of course we had a lot of students dropping off items too.”

Winter clothing was the drive’s goal, and contributions ranged from Boots, snow pants and warm winter coats to sweatshirts, hats and gloves, either new or gently used. “We had close to 10 large containers of donations,” she said. “It’s a testament to me of the way our student leaders are passionate and committed and caring and want to make change in our communities in really brilliant ways.”

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Lara Scott

“They did the distribution across the Winooski community in late October, and the group was very grateful to have everything they got, and all through Sam’s initiative,” she said, adding that some donations also went to the Vermont Refugee Resettlement group, another MOVE partner of long standing.

Scott mentioned other worthwhile and inspiring MOVE initiatives this semester, including collaborating with the SMC Farm and the Center for the Environment as in the past to work on sustainable agriculture and getting local produce both to Sodexo on campus and other needed places. MOVE members often work on weekends in planting and harvesting, and Belanger, with his major and interests, is a useful resource in those efforts too.

Donations

Donations of winter clothing collect in the MOVE office before recent community distribution.

An always-popular upcoming event, as in many past years, Scott said, is MOVE’s Annual Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, November 13-20. All Week Long will be an ongoing Food Drive in Alliot and Dion, and at athletics game.

Other events through the week are: volunteer opportunities with Cook N’ Food Sunday and Tuesday; a screening Monday of the film “A Place at the Table” with discussion in Cheray 101 at 7 pm.; Food Stamp Challenge Tabling in the Alliot Lobby on Tuesday, and the Hunger Banquet in the Roy Room at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. This event, shared with groups around the world during the national week of hunger and homeless awareness via sponsorship of Oxfam, gives first-hand experience of typical “meals” for those of different income levels. Finally, Thursday November 18 at 7 p.m. will be Transgender Day of Resilience Vigil on the Chapel steps.

The only program requiring registration is the Hunger Banquet. The film will be viewable via a remote option too for those with COVID concerns.

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A poster for the recent winter clothing drive that Sam Belanger organized with help from Lara Scott

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