Sam White Named November Community Service Student-Athlete of the Month
The senior has organized the delivery of hundreds of pounds of food to local shelters and pantries
Sam White of the sailing team has been named the Community Service Student-Athlete of the Month for November after accumulating over 50 hours of community service so far this semester. In collaboration with Creative Catering DC, White has organized efforts to donate leftover Training Table meals to those in need. Below, he explains why he became involved in this project.
Why was this project in particular so important to you?
I saw the potential to make a simple systemic change in Athletic Department policy and donate thousands of pounds of food a year to people in need. We donate an average of about 12 pounds per day, but last week were able to donate over 100 pounds right before Thanksgiving -- which really felt great. Sometimes the donations are small, and sometimes they're huge, but they really add up to an enormous sum when they happen nearly every day over the course of the year. Coordinating the donation of the leftover food from training table gives us a unique opportunity to take food for which the athletic department and student-athletes have already paid and feed dozens of hungry people per day.
In the beginning of the semester, I drove the food to shelters and pantries myself. I used an app called MEANS Database to find people and organizations who could claim the food within a few hours. After several weeks, I started to build relationships with shelters and food pantries in the area that accept donations on a daily basis, and even pick them up from Smith Center. Now that the project has been going on for three months, all I really have to do is coordinate the pickups. Other athletes have stepped up to help deliver on days that pantries don't have drivers to pick up: Alexis Lete (Volleyball), Connor James (Cross Country), Miranda DiBlasio (Cross Country), Sam Runyon (Water Polo), Geena Peyton (Water Polo), and Erin McGeoy (Water Polo). St. Luke's Campus Kitchen and DC Central Kitchen receive the bulk of the donations.
What other projects have you participated in during your time at GW?
During freshman and sophomore year, I tutored elementary school kids in NE DC through an organization called Project Northstar in NE. Before college, I volunteered extensively with Wellesley A Better Chance, my hometown's branch of a national organization that provides housing and scholarships to attend top tier public and private high schools for students in underserved communities. In high school, I ran a low-budget recording studio out of my basement, so I used my equipment to interview ABC alumnae and produce promotional videos for the program's fundraising efforts.
I didn't do as much as I would have liked last year, and that's one of the big reasons that I committed to getting the food donation project off the ground this semester. My experience with ABC at home, and tutoring during my first couple years at GW taught me how rewarding it is to make a tangible impact on a regular basis.
What does giving back to the community mean to you?
I think the best kinds of philanthropy has three main elements: impact, collaboration, and continuity. Meaningful community service projects make a large impact, they get the whole community involved, and they compound that impact and involvement sustainably into the future.
Those elements feed into each other too. The more we involve the whole community, the longer programs last because we encourage each other to be invested in the impact that we're making. If we can donate a few days of training table leftovers to feed dozens of people each day, that's good. If we can consistently coordinate those donations on a regular basis to donate 1,000-2,000 pounds of food over a whole year, that's great. But if we're systematic and make those donations a responsibility that we share continuously as a community, and we spread them over the campus to mitigate waste elsewhere at GW, then we really get to make an impact.
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