Senior NC Magnet students gained the opportunity to travel to the Clarkston Community Center in the city of Clarkston on Saturday, September 21. Clarkston Community Center serves as a safe and welcoming place for newly-arriving refugees from regions all over the world. The city’s cultural diversity serves as the foundation for the center’s various aid programs, like food pantries, English language classes and job fairs.
The center’s food drive kicked off upon the arrival of the students, where they were sorted into groups. Each group was assigned their own station or job to fulfill: packing rice and diapers for the refugees, helping them fill out forms (which help estimate the number of supplies they need), and helping the refugees pick and pack the foods they needed to take home to their families.
“It was a very fulfilling experience and made me even more grateful for what I have. We were able to help the refugees feel more comfortable in America because we supplied them with basic needs, which hopefully makes them feel less stressed about the transition to a new country,” Magnet senior Grace Nthale said.
The room piled with refugees and immigrants mainly from Africa and Southeast Asia, where socio-economic and political climates became tense. Canned and boxed foods, donated clothes, and diapers were offered to help these families find a fresh, comfortable start in America, taking the pressure of finding said necessities off their backs. The items were distributed based on the family size of each refugee, making sure that every family could receive what they needed.
“Volunteering at Clarkston truly put everything I’ve learned in the international studies magnet program into perspective. I got to see with my own eyes how international conflicts affect individuals, as well as how international conflicts can affect our own country,” Magnet senior Ana Barahona said.
This service event not only impacted the immigrants and refugees but left a lasting sense of gratitude in those who volunteered. The food pantry, held twice a month on Saturdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., remains open for any volunteers willing to help; the Clarkston Community Center also accepts any monetary donations through their website for those willing to make a contribution towards their mission.