On February 26th, the College of Saint Scholastica held its fifth annual Thanksgiving in the Spring as part of Community Day. During this event over 2500 meals were made and served to members of the Duluth community, a number that is significantly up from previous years, which averaged about 1500 meals a year. Community members were able to request meals by calling the College or participating in the Thanksgiving program at the DECC in the fall. Previous recipients of Thanksgiving in the Spring meals are also given the option of having meals delivered.
An increase in meals served was not the only change made this year. The Dignitas classes on campus have always pitched in for Thanksgiving in the Spring. Previously, though, each class would typically participate in either preparatory work or meal delivery. This was the first year that all Dignitas classes did both prep work and made deliveries. 391 first-year Dignitas students, as well as their mentors, CSS faculty, and staff came together to make the day a success. Meals were delivered to the surrounding communities, including Two Harbors, Duluth, Superior, and Cloquet with unprecedented success. Bret Amundson, the director of the Dignitas Program, noted that of the 2500 meals, under 15 were unable to be delivered, another improvement over last year.
Only one hiccup occurred in the process. In previous years, UPS has provided routes with turn-by-turn instructions for the students making home deliveries. This year, however, UPS did not respond to the College's request for routes. Fortunately, the students were able to compensate with the use of GPS devices and smart phones. Amundson noted that despite this issue, delivery was "overall much more fluid" than the past.
Student responses to the experience were very positive. Heather Carlson's class cooked and served food at CHUM (Churches United in Ministry). She said, "I liked being able to interact and help other people in the community It made me feel good knowing I can contribute to the community simply by eating a dinner with them." Kaylin Ebinger, who made home deliveries shared Carlson's enthusiasm, saying "I absolutely loved seeing the smiles on people's faces when we gave them their meals." It was also a humbling experience for her. "It was a little rough to see the condition some people were in," she said. Rachel Hansen agreed. "My teacher told me that for some people, the meal we were serving would be the only meal that they would get for the day. It shocked me how many people we served meals to because I had no idea that so many people in Duluth were having trouble getting enough to eat." Sarah Kroska took pride in her College's efforts to give to the community. "I couldn't believe the amount of work people put into this event!" she said. " I played a small role, but I feel like it was a valuable one."
Community Day is about living out the College of Saint Scholastica's values. The opportunity to do so, Amundson believes, is what sets CSS apart from other schools. "This is why it's different to go here," he said.
Much of the planning for Thanksgiving in the Spring is made by a committee led by students Magan McCusker and Mindi Esala. Also on the committee are Jack Teske, Jean Anderson, Bret Amundson, Jessica Amundson, Kate Kucinski, George Beattie, and Ruth Erdmann-Sluka. If you get the chance, thank a committee member for a job well done.