BOUNTIFUL — There aren’t too many options for families with young children to volunteer together, so when Amelia Mun of Farmington heard that Eagle Bay Elementary was giving families from their school the opportunity to serve at the Bountiful Food Pantry, she jumped at the chance.
“I feel it’s important for my kids to have the opportunity to serve, and there are not many places that let my younger kids help out,” said Mun, who recently brought her 9-, 7-, and 5-year-old children with her to the food pantry. “They’re working together and having fun, which seems like a positive way to look at service by having fun and still helping someone.”
The Mun’s were one of seven families from Eagle Bay Elementary who were participating at the recent service event hosted by the Eagle Bay Elementary PTA. The school’s PTA decided to tie the activity into their theme for the year, “Unity in the Community.”
“We do a lot of fun things, but it was nice that we could tie service into our school through this activity,” said Lori Barnes, PTA President.
Because the food pantry can only handle small groups at a time, their night of service was split into two different nights, with four families having participating the week before.
The food pantry was thrilled to have the families participate.
“I feel like it’s critical that families have the opportunity to volunteer together, giving the family unit a chance to serve together, and exposing children at a young age to volunteer efforts,” said Lorna Koci, Director of the Bountiful Food Pantry. “In reality, the volunteering the little ones do is inconsequential, but the experience they have is monumental.”
Mun agreed, because even though she had to help her 5-year-old read the bins so he could sort cans into the right pile, she knew it was worth it.
“He’s excited to do it and help out,” said Mun.
The two dozen volunteers were not only sorting cans, but preparing grocery sacks for pantry customers, dividing potatoes, and scooping cat and dog food into smaller bags.
Nine-year-old Hailey Powell of Farmington thought coming to help with her family was a great idea.
“This is a good opportunity to help make the community a better place and make other lives better, and it’s a way of saying I helped out with people who need certain things.”
The experience often opens up children’s eyes to other’s situations, said Koci. Often she will conduct tours for children of the pantry, and will talk to them about what it’s like to be hungry.
“One in seven children will go to bed hungry each day in Utah, which is an alarming number,” said Koci. “I like to ask the kids what kinds of choices they can make in their life so they are never in a situation where they don’t have food.”
The kids usually respond by suggesting they finish school, get a good job, and be an honest person, she said. “It gives them a chance to connect the dots by coming here to see what happens to help these families if they are in need,” she said.