The Jamil Niner Student Pantry is a food pantry located on the outskirts of campus. Offering a variety of necessities, the food pantry has been expanding to satisfy the needs of the students at UNC Charlotte. Aside from the physical things that you are able to get from the food pantry, they also offer something that every college student can benefit from; the opportunity to be a volunteer. Volunteering at the food pantry is very rewarding, and according to some of the current volunteers, there are multiple reasons why.
- You have the chance to network. There are numerous volunteers at the Jamil Niner Student Pantry. Once you start volunteering and working in the different areas of the pantry (food, garden, etc.), you will start meeting new people. Also, volunteering at the food pantry means that you will be interacting with some of the businesses that donate to the pantry. Additionally, the volunteer coordinators are also a good resource as far as networking because they can introduce you to all of the other volunteers, or show you where you can find anything you would need to be successful in the pantry.
- You receive service hours. Just like any other community service activity, volunteering at the food pantry gives you service hours that you are able to put on your resume. The process to log your hours is very simple and is monitored by the volunteer coordinators. A handful of student organizations on campus require you to have a certain amount of service hours for the year in order to be a member of the club, so this would be a great place to achieve those hours. Regardless if it is required or not, having service hours on your resume looks outstanding when it is time to get a job. The more hours of community service that you have on your resume, the more you stand out from the rest of the people interested in the same job as you.
- You gain work skills. According to Yazmine Freeman, one of the volunteers, working in the garden at the pantry has increased her knowledge of plants and how to take care of them. She said “Prior to working in the garden, I did not know that you had to uproot plants. You also have to turn the soil in order for the plant to grow. I now know how to properly take care of the plants.” Another volunteer, Brianna Johnson, says that “Working in the food pantry has helped me as far as knowing how to work as a team.”
- You gain leadership skills. According to Ashalee Noble, “Working in the food pantry has helped me learn how to take initiative.” Most of the volunteers that I spoke with started volunteering at the beginning of the semester, and they have already enhanced their leadership skills while being there. Being able to lead by example is very important so that incoming volunteers see what should be done and are able to follow the steps of the other volunteers.
- The biggest achievement of all… Being able to help others. When you volunteer your services at the food pantry, whether it is helping sort the food cans out, or work on the garden, you are helping others. Some of our peers around campus depend on the food pantry for their meals, and being able to receive food from the pantry makes a big difference. If you are assisting the pantry in any way, you are making things easier for the people who need it. If your task for the day is to go through the boxed goods and make sure that none of it is expired, then you are assisting with the food safety of others. If you have anything to do with the clothing section of the pantry, then you are assisting the people who need professional clothing but can not afford it. Regardless of what it is that you are doing, you are helping to make the pantry a safe and comfortable place for all students to go to, and that is the most fulfilling thing you could possibly get out of it.