Warren Wilson College News

WWC’s 2013 Service Day helps partners tackle food security

The WWC contingent at Mountain Area Child and Family Center            [Photo by Hope Snipes/MACFC]

                                                                                                                           To say that a festive atmosphere prevails as people gather at Morris’ Community Pavilion for Warren Wilson College’s annual Service Day is understating things a bit.

This August, a sea of blue spilled over the pavilion lawn, blue being the color selected for 2013 Service Day T-shirts with this motto: Rooted in Community. As recorded music resounded from the pavilion where a continental breakfast was served, students came together in their peer groups in anticipation of traveling in buses and other vehicles to their respective work sites. At a break in the music, Dean of Service Cathy Kramer officially started the day with an enthusiastic “Happy Service Day!” greeting to the more than 370 students, faculty and staff at the pavilion.

With hunger a persistent problem in Asheville and Western North Carolina, Service Day focused on food security for the fourth consecutive year. Among the 21 sites in Asheville, Swannanoa and Black Mountain were school gardens and programs, community gardens and food banks. Each of these College partners is clearly doing its part to help combat hunger in Buncombe County, and beyond in some cases.

Although many of the 21 partner locations were a bit of a drive from Warren Wilson, two sites were just down the road: ArtSpace Charter School and Mountain Area Child and Family Center. The latter, in fact, is located on the western edge of the College’s 1100-acre campus. The College and Center have had a close relationship since MACFC opened its doors in 2001, one that continues today through Warren Wilson work crews, service activities and teaching on site.

WWC professor Annie Jonas (sunglasses) and students at ArtSpace [Photo by Juliana Caldwell/ArtSpace]

ArtSpace, on U.S. 70 not far from Warren Wilson, also opened in 2001, several months after MACFC. A highly regarded K-8 school integrating the arts in education, ArtSpace has enrolled a number of children of Warren Wilson faculty and staff over the years.

How much difference can a group of students make in one day? Duncan McFarlane, maintenance coordinator at MACFC, can tell you: a lot. “This day is one of my five favorite reasons for working here,” he said as he noted the gardening, landscaping and beautification projects Warren Wilson students were working on in the August sun.

The story was much the same at ArtSpace, where students and WWC professor Annie Jonas worked in the school’s garden, next to the Good Foods Garden that features raised beds. Darlene Dimenna, an administrative assistant who doubles as ArtSpace garden coordinator, said the Service Day work, including weeding and mulching, was especially welcome this summer with the records amounts of rainfall the Asheville area has had this year.

And at Manna FoodBank, volunteer manager Max Gruber raved about the work done by Warren Wilson students.

“All of our staff were impressed by the diligent work ethic of each students, and by the incredible amount of work that was accomplished,” Gruber said. “I had the pleasure of working side by side with the students during the afternoon, and it was truly the highlight of my week.”

Mike Stevenson at Loving Food Resources also offered plenty of praise.

“The 16 Owls who visited us last Friday were most impressive: friendly, eager, industrious, observant and I could go on and on,” he said. “Your students cleaned everything and then looked for more to do. What a welcome contribution they made to LFR.”

As always, Service Day wasn’t all work, rewarding as the work was. At day’s end everyone returned to the pavilion for ice cream, not a bad deal on a warm August day. Afterward, students turned their attention to another big day: Triad Day, the first day of classes of the 2013-14 academic year.

You can find an Asheville Citizen-Times photo gallery here of students working at Hall Fletcher Elementary. A story that aired on WLOS-TV can be found here.

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