Showing a We Care attitude is nothing new at the St. Cloud campus of the Minnesota School of Business. On a regular basis, staff and students go out into the community to volunteer and participate in service outreach projects like Read Across America, Relay for Life, and Operation School Supplies.
Yet the recent Martin Luther King, Jr., Service Day event, in partnership with Kids Fighting Hunger, turned out to be special. As staff volunteered on the food packaging line at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, they learned that two of the students who worked beside them had at one time been recipients of the very food they prepared to send away to the hungry.
Dub Ojullu was once a refugee from Gambella on the border of Ethiopia and the Sudan. Now an American citizen and MSB business administration degree student, Ojullu vividly recalls the tribal wars that forced people from Gambella into the Sudan—and the subsequent food shortages. He recalls the World Bank airlifting meal packages–like the ones he helped prepare while volunteering—into the refugee camps and the surrounding area.
“There was nowhere to land the plane,” he said, “so they had to drop it from the air. People had to run down to get it. If you aren’t tough enough,” he added, “you are not going to get it.”
Ojullo stresses that the warring and hunger still go on there and that is part of the reason he volunteers.
“For most Americans,” he says, “they don’t see it. But for people like me, I see it. You can’t say ‘I don’t want to eat,’” he continues. “You never say ‘no’ because you don’t know what you are going to get next.”
Ojullo was inspired by his Global Citizenship project his first quarter in college at Minnesota School of Business to volunteer in the community. He hopes to volunteer again with Kids Fighting Hunger and perhaps to convince them to dedicate an entire packaging event to his area of the world.
Kristina Bauck, also a business administration degree student, began the Kids Fighting Hunger event working with students from her Global Citizenship class for a service learning project, but she stayed to volunteer with other MSB staff and students out of a sense of her own purpose.
“Just the phrase alone [Kids Fighting Hunger] hit me,” she says. “I have children. I’ve worked with children for many years. You don’t know the outcome of what your help can do. [The child you are helping] may be the next person who cures cancer.”
And Bauck has her own story to tell of a time a few years ago when she was an in-home daycare provider with a high-risk pregnancy. She describes her situation as an “average family going day by day.” But then she was hospitalized for five weeks and forced to give up her business.
Her husband worked, and his income disqualified them from any county assistance. Once her daughter was born prematurely and the medical bills began flooding in, it seemed impossible to provide for even the essentials.
Their church delivered meals, (Bethlehem Lutheran where the event was held) and their family was a great support, but still they couldn’t manage.
“Asking for help,” Bauck says, “taking that first step to go to the food shelf was hard. Very hard. But we needed it for almost a year.”
During that time, Bauck’s family ate the same prepared meal that was being packaged at the Kids Fighting Hunger event.
Volunteering for Kids Fighting Hunger means “I’m paying it forward,” Bauck feels. “Someone else is out there who has the same situation or a bigger problem, a bigger circumstance.”
Staff and students participating in this We Care event experienced the privilege of putting a face on hunger and feeding it.
More than 150,000 meals were packaged at this event, headed to Africa, Jamaica and local food shelves.