By Diana Russo, Lifestyles Editor
St. John Fisher College is hosting its second annual Love Your Neighbor Refugee Food Drive to benefit Mary’s Place during the month of February.
Mary’s Place is a non-profit organization located in Rochester that provides free services to refugees. Interns and volunteers help facilitate services that include English classes, case management services, job skills workforce development classes and weekly food and clothing distribution.
Charlsey Bickett, the Executive Director of Mary’s Place discussed the primary goal of Mary’s Place, “we ultimately want our families when they come here, we want to assist them in feeling comfortable with getting American cultural norms with learning the new place that we are living in. We want to help them with their language skills, again helping those who are trying to find employment, to have added independence and financial stability and just giving people a peaceful life.”
The Fisher community can bring food products to Basil 117 and transfer admissions. Juana Vega, the Assistant Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Programs said “these particular organizations…they don’t look for canned goods, so they look for specific foods that refugees know how to cook with.” Desired food products consist of rice, potatoes, oil, salt, onions and beans.
Vega stressed the importance of the food drive and how beneficial it can be for those who may not have access to necessities, “always be willing to give what you have, especially to those who are less fortunate. And to be thankful for what you have. Food and security can happen to anyone at any time. It does not discriminate.”
The Fisher community donated 950 items last year. This year Vega hopes to obtain the same number of goods or surpass this number. “It is always humbling to see how generous our students and our staff and faculty are. And in doing so, again educate the piece of you know taking care of individuals in our community that need assistance” said Vega.
Vega describes a refugee as someone from another country who is escaping from a bad situation and is looking for better opportunities and assistance.
“It really shows our stance for support with refugees and immigrants so we are here to help each other out in our community. We are all human beings and we all deserve basic necessities. This is a way that we can give back and support fellow humanity” said Vega.
Those who are interested in volunteering or becoming an intern at Mary’s Place can contact Bickett at Cbickett@dor.org.