Michaela LaFountain, alongside 12 other senior nursing students at Plattsburgh State, held a food drive last Sunday to help local food shelves in need.
Students accepted non-perishable food as well as non-food items like soap, paper towels, toothpaste and more at three drop-off locations at Hawkins Hall on Cornelia Street, Beekmantown’s town hall and Peru.
“We weren’t really expecting a big turnout, but we ended up getting a lot of people in the community who came by,” LaFountain said. “Whether it was a bag or three or four boxes, we had multiple people come deliver non-perishable items and toiletry items, which was really awesome to see everyone in the community helping each other out.”
Students dropped off some donated items to United Way of the Adirondack Region, a human service organization that helps deliver health and human programs. John Bernardi, president and CEO of United Way, said the donations filled up the back of a pickup truck.
“They really did an outstanding job.” he said “I thought it was a great example of young people, particularly SUNY Plattsburgh students in this case, doing something very useful and impactful to their community.”
United Way called surrounding food shelves in the area to see which ones needed the donations the most. Bernardi said several were running low on supplies as demand has increased dramatically because of the coronavirus outbreak.
That demand was something LaFountain wanted to address with the food drive, and it’s also why she wanted to reach out to other local students to help out.
“One person can help, say, five people, but if you get 12 poeple involved, you can get more things done and impact more people,” she said.
LaFountain said the food drive was promoted mostly through social media. Some who came by to donate said they had so many items stocked up with nowhere to donate them, so that’s where the food drive came in handy.
LaFountain held the food drive as a part of her Transition to Professional Nursing class taught by Assistant Professor of Nursing Heather LaPoint.
LaPoint said service to the community is another step in what it means to be a nurse.
“We can take care of folks in hospitals all day long, but if we send them into an unhealthy community, we haven’t done them any good,” she said. “We treat people holistically, and that includes treating the communities in which they live.”
To LaPoint, LaFountain’s food drive is another example of PSU nursing students’ drive.
“Our students are problem solvers. Michaela, she specifically saw a huge need in our local community, and she just took the wheel of it,” LaPoint said. “She organized a huge event and pulled in other students to one, to help the students with their requirements and two, to get even more aid to the local community.”
The food drive was much more than a class assignment for LaFountain.
“It was a simple act that turned out to be a lot more rewarding and humbling experience than I had ever anticipated,” she said.
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