MURFREESBORO — MTSU's "Little Friends Helping Big Friends" food drive may need a little help hauling the ton of nonperishable food they want to deliver next Friday, Nov. 22, for the university's Student Food Pantry.
The children of Project Help, MTSU's early-intervention preschool, are teaming up with supporters all over campus and Rutherford County, along with Jones Therapy Service, to keep the food pantry's shelves stocked with supplies for hungry students.
Last fall the Project Help kids, ages 15 months to 5 years, collected more than 1,500 pounds of food for the then-newly established Student Food Pantry. This year’s goal is 2,000 pounds — one ton — or more.
That food will be quickly put to use. Between October 2012 and early November 2013, MTSU students made 370 visits to the pantry, and the facility already is beginning to see more requests for help as colder weather approaches along with the holiday season.
“Our staff has embraced the opportunity to give back for several years,” said Susan Waldrop, director of Project Help. “The MTSU Food Bank remains one of those places we feel blessed to have on campus and to be able to help support.
“Our goal of a ton of food seems appropriate coming from a place where kids are a ton of fun,” she continued with a laugh. “Working with the Jones Therapy Group again is great, too; they collected a lot of food last year, plus they provide services to many of our children.”
Project Help is providing donation boxes in several locations across campus and also is accepting food from MTSU and the Murfreesboro community through Thursday, Nov. 21, at its main facility, located at 206 N. Baird Lane.
“Right now we’re trying to figure out how to make a serious bragging announcement of our collected food poundage,” Waldrop said, emphasizing their certainty of success. “All ideas about that, like the food donations, will be gratefully accepted!”
Founded in 1983, Project Help is a specialized inclusive preschool for young children where little ones with developmental delays and disabilities can receive early-intervention and family-support services while they learn and play with those who are developing typically. Its progressive preschool serves children from 15 months to 3 years old, and “Project Help Prep” helps 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds get ready for public school.
The center’s staff, which trains more than 150 student participants each semester, works with parents through family-support programs that include workshops, one-to-one interactions and informal training seminars.
In addition to the “Little Friends” boxes and community drop-off point, nonperishable food donations also are being accepted weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the MTSU Food Pantry, located in the McFarland Building. (You can find a searchable campus map with parking notes at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap13-14.)
Donated food items should be conveniently packaged in easy-open cans, boxes or containers and shouldn't require cooking, except in a microwave. Suggestions for donations include:
· canned and dried fruits or fruit cups;
· macaroni and cheese and other quick pasta mixes and heat-and-eat rice;
· instant drink mix;
· muffins and granola bars;
· canned or boxed juices;
· canned tuna and other ready-to-eat meats;
· gelatin and pudding snacks;
· canned or dry beans;
· soups, chili and ravioli, including vegetarian options;
· canned vegetables;
· shelf-stable milk;
· cereal; and
· peanut butter.
For more information about Project Help, including a link to plenty of great photos at its Facebook page, visit its website at http://www.mtsu.edu/projecthelp. You also can visit the MTSU Student Food Pantry website at http://www.mtsu.edu/foodpantry.