As a college student, waking up at 7:30 in the morning was not the most thrilling idea. For my Community Impact Project for my Psych 103 class and part of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, I decided to take part in volunteering at Sweetgrass Garden. As their mission, Sweetgrass works to grow fresh produce for distribution agencies in South Carolina. To me, it seemed like a pretty cool concept, and as tired as I was I was still eager to see how the process worked.
Before our group of volunteers would ride together to John’s Island, we first met at the Lightsey Center for a small information session. As we ate granola bars and introduced ourselves, we started to get acquainted with each other. Soon after, we watched a PowerPoint on the impact of hunger and homelessness and what Sweetgrass Garden does in order to make a change in the community.
Some of the statistics were shocking. Each year, 3.5 million people are likely to experience hunger and homelessness. Although there are many places that can help within the Charleston area, such as Crisis Ministries and Lowcountry Food Bank, hunger and homelessness is still a persistent issue. After learning about these facts, I was ready to help in any way I could.
Arriving at the site, all twelve of us were greeted by Dale Snyder, who helped Sweetgrass Garden become a reality. He shared some interesting facts about Sweetgrass explaining how they donate 95 percent of everything they garden, and how they have been continuously growing ever since it was first established. Snyder then introduced us to some more volunteers who are there every week. I was moved by the fact that every Saturday, the same people always come by to help. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that there are still people out there who do things such as this out of the kindness of their hearts. They could be doing anything else with their Saturday morning- sleeping in, reading the paper, watching TV, anything – but instead, they volunteer their free time to help others who really need it.
After that, we all began to start working. All of the volunteers worked together in different tasks, whether it was weeding, spreading fish compost or watering. During this process, we all began talking and bonding. We started to know each other even better and had a lot of fun with it. Such big tasks seemed easy when there was group effort. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something about working with this group of people to accomplish such big tasks was special. It seemed crazy to me how just a few hours beforehand, we didn’t even know each other.
It was around noon when it was about time to leave, and I was surprised at how fast time went by. It felt like we had just started working by the time noon hit. Before we left, we discussed with our group what we learned and how it made us feel helping the community, sharing our favorite memories from that morning.
I left Sweetgrass Garden feeling like I had actually made a difference within the community. I’ve been a part of different volunteer opportunities before, but not one like this. This time, I actually felt like I had done something worth contributing – and that was a great feeling to have.