University students, staff spread kindness through MATTERboxes

By Douglas McCulloch | Feb 26, 2018
Photo by: Douglas McCulloch Jemila Degraffenreid, Christian Louis, Nataki Degraffenreid, Bhumi Patel, David Ferranti, Mollie Madigan, and Ashley Green all helped stuff boxes.

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth students and staff were planning to hold an afternoon box-stuffing event, but by lunchtime volunteers had already breezed through assembling more than 300 boxes filled with food for those in need.

More than 30 volunteers and students stopped by the university’s campus center on February 28 to assemble specially prepared “MATTERboxes.” Each box contained boxes of Cheerios, granola bars, and a pamphlet educating recipients on healthy food options.

“It’s not just about getting food into the community, it’s about getting the right food into the community,” said Chartwells Marketing Director Kirby Roberts.

It was organized by the university's Chartwells dining service through a program initiated by Ellen DeGeneres and Cheerios called One Million Acts of Good. The program challenged people to record acts of goodness in their communities.

“We finished super early,” Roberts said. “We were done in about an hour.”

Student and staff volunteers from several campus organizations, including SMAST, Share Esperanza, Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership, Love Your Melon, and a fraternity helped assemble the boxes.

“I like to give back to others who don’t have as much,” said Nataki Degraffenreid, a member of Share Esperanza who helped assemble boxes. “Helping others gives me joy and happiness.”

The boxes will be donated to Arnie’s Cupboard, an on-campus food pantry serving the student population, and Youth Opportunities Unlimited, a New Bedford-based non-profit organization serving children in need in the area.

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