Amy Crofts is one of the many exemplary faculty members at Owens Community College that reaches out to the community to serve others. Crofts, a medical imaging instructor, wanted to make a difference and decided to form a group to feed the hungry of Toledo.
We were touched and inspired to help the hungry and the homeless, so we decided to go to them; in their homes and bring food and friendship, said Crofts.
The group, Food For Thought, began with 12 volunteers walking around downtown with backpacks filled with lunches. They wanted to feed the hungry something that would not spoil but also had a homemade touch. The solution was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a bag of chips, dessert and a bottle of water.
At first, it was difficult to find people for the lunches, however they didn t give up. Food For Thought members continued to go downtown every Saturday morning, and soon realized they were serving the same people each week.
We began to learn their names, situations, and genuinely care about them. We found they were looking for us every Saturday just as much as we were looking for them. We started forming friendships, and it turned out that was more important to them than the lunches, said Crofts.
Before she became involved with Food For Thought, Crofts said she was often uncomfortable with the homeless, but because of her time volunteering, she realized they are just like us, and need conversation, love and friendship.
I was homeless and Food For Thought helped me find an apartment. I think it is a fantastic organization, and now I volunteer each week to give back to the community that helped me so immensely, said Curtis Streeter, a Food For Thought volunteer.
After starting in May 2007 serving 50 lunches per week, Food For Thought currently serves between 350 and 450 lunches weekly. People form a line as early as 9 a.m. and some even help the group set up and clean up.
Many of Crofts Owens students have organized clothing drives and donated their time and effort to help Food For Thought. Crofts says it opens their eyes to the amount of people that need help, and they are not always helping the kinds of people that they expect.
One of her students pointed out that working with Food For Thought helped her realize that even though some people are not dressed nicely or have not bathed in a few days, it does not mean they are not good people. They may be going through a rough time and just need some help.
It is a very valuable learning experience accomplished in a setting which students may not otherwise visit. Medical Imaging students spend a lot of time performing procedures and communicating with patients, and the time spent conversing with people who are recipients of the community service can be a very profound learning experience, said Cathy Ford, Chair of Medical Imaging.
Food For Thought is not limited to feeding the homeless; they are dedicated to feeding the hungry, which could be a police officer that didn t have time for a lunch break, a tired bus driver or a business man rushing to the next meeting.
Volunteers also go downtown with a supply of personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, powder and depending on the season, sunscreen and sunglasses or hats and gloves.
Interested volunteers can help pack the lunches every Friday at 6 p.m. at New Harvest Church in Oregon or pass out lunches at the Main Library at 10:15 every Saturday morning.