In an effort to inspire volunteerism and leadership with youth, the Orangevale Food Bank welcomed five teenage young men from Chiapas, Mexico for a two week internship this last July. In partnership with Young Life, a global youth outreach organization, the food bank leadership team reviewed many high school students’ applications from this southern region of Mexico. Five young men were selected to make their first trip outside of their country for a life-shaping experience as they worked alongside food bank volunteers to serve the needs of our community.
Ramiro, one of the students said “It’s cool to see a community come together to collect and distribute food for their neighbors in need”. Volunteering is not a typical thing that happens in his community in Mexico. “These volunteers taught me that life is most fulfilled when you give to others.”
One of the primary projects the boys helped coordinate was Orangevale Food Bank’s annual partnership with AboutKidz and their First Day back-to-school event. The 6th annual event provided a backpack, new set of clothes, a free haircut, and a bag of school lunch food to nearly 1,000 students. The event held at New Life Community Church in Fair Oaks was made available to all students in the San Juan Unified School District, as well as any families regularly served by the Orangevale Food Bank. The Chiapas boys collected school lunch food such as granola bars, fruit cups, juice boxes, crackers, and more – and organized volunteer events to pack several bags for several hundred families. They worked alongside 30-40 volunteers from our community to help pull off the event.
In addition to volunteering, the boys worked with Jay Miranda, one of the food bank leaders, through an intensive leadership development training curriculum. They had the opportunity to meet with local community-minded business leaders who shared about their experiences in using their business to impact lives of their employees as well as people in our communities. The boys returned home with a bigger vision of the world, a better understanding of how to serve a community, and felt inspired to do something great with their lives.
The Orangevale Food Bank would like to thank generous donors and our team of volunteers who housed these students for helping with this very exciting program!