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Venice values volunteering

Alissa Widman Neese • Sep 13, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Standing in a row, eight elementary students formed a makeshift assembly line, counting cardboard boxes full of produce on a table outside Zion Lutheran Church in Sandusky.

Some students might grow bored after almost two hours of bagging fresh fruits and vegetables, but not Linda Green’s class. The group from Venice Heights Elementary School enthusiastically tallied peaches and green peppers, then shoved the sorted contents into plastic grocery bags and passed them along.

Produce given out this month

• 304 three-pound bags of onions

• 315 heads of cabbage

• 405 melons

• 1,064 cucumbers

• 1,176 bundles of greens

• 1,750 pounds of carrots

• 1,824 green peppers

• 2,400 ears of corn

• 2,730 peaches

To them, the volunteer work this past week was a fun and educational opportunity, Green said.

“They really got a lot out of it,” she said.

On the first Thursday of each month through November, United Way of Erie County organizes a farmer’s market to provide free, fresh produce to local low-income families, said Pam Brumbaugh, the organization’s executive director.

This month’s market supported 332 households, with each receiving about 20 to 30 pounds of fresh produce, Brumbaugh said. Second Harvest food bank, a regional nonprofit serving four area counties, supplied the fruit and vegetables. Care and Share, Sandusky Salvation Army and New Day Family Resource Center help operate the program, which is hosted at Zion Lutheran Church on Columbus Avenue.

On Thursday, Green’s students bagged green peppers and peaches before the event began.

“This is her second season bringing the kids to participate, and we were really excited when we were able to create this partnership last year,” Brumbaugh said. “They’re learning skills while giving back to the community, and it’s really a win-win for everyone involved. We appreciate all the hard work they do.”

Green, a Sandusky Schools intervention specialist, said her students benefit tremendously from bagging the produce, which teaches teamwork, counting and other functional skills. Her students all have varying levels of learning and developmental disabilities.

Fifth-grader RaShaun Roldan, 11, said his favorite part was putting the peaches in bags for the needy families. Fourth-grader Jai Widman, 9, said she liked eating lunch with her classmates and other volunteers at the church.

“This week we completed a worksheet in class recapping where we went, what we did and who we helped,” Green said. “I’m very proud of the kids and I think they did a wonderful job.”


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