From October 3 to 8, 2022, students, faculty, staff and alumni came together for UBC Sauder Gives Back, a week dedicated to partnering with local organizations and volunteering in the Vancouver community.
The volunteer team from UBC Sauder helped sort and pack food at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.
UBC Sauder Gives Back is a student-run initiative of the Commerce Undergraduate Society (CUS). The student organizers arranged a wide spectrum of volunteer opportunities this year, from serving snacks at a community living room in the Downtown Eastside, to packaging meals for individuals living with HIV and co-existing illnesses, and helping conduct a research project for the North Shore Women’s Centre.
UBC Bachelor of Commerce students and CUS organizers Victoria and Abeer (left and middle), with fellow volunteer at the Ocean Wise Shoreline Clean-up.
The student experience at the shoreline clean-up
Thomas Kamiya is a fourth-year UBC Bachelor of Commerce student specializing in finance who volunteered at the Ocean Wise Shoreline Clean-up. He’s a member of the CUS and part of a sub-group (or “service” as they are known in the CUS) called Commerce Community.
“We all feel like the school has given us so much and has propelled us in our careers and personal lives,” says Kamiya. “It was a great opportunity to do something for our community and do something with the position that we’re in.”
As for why he decided to volunteer for the clean-up at a beach on campus, Kamiya says he was attracted to the fact that it was a chance to help the local community so close to home and a great way to work in some physical activity and time outside.
Something he didn’t anticipate was the gratitude expressed by total strangers. He says the kind comments from passersby on the beach was an unexpected highlight of the afternoon.
An example of the litter that the UBC Sauder team cleaned up on Wreck Beach during their volunteer shift.
“There were a lot of people thanking us and saying, ‘Oh what you’re doing is so great,’” recalls Kamiya. “Being able to see our actions making an impact in someone’s life was really fulfilling.”
A chance to meet people and form new dynamics
Kamiya describes UBC Sauder as a close-knit community. He says he enjoyed interacting with students outside his social circle and staff members from the Undergraduate Office during his volunteer shift. One of the familiar faces on the beach was faculty member Elicia Salzberg, now Senior Associate Dean, Students. She taught Kamiya earlier in his undergraduate degree.
“I had a good chance to talk with her about quite a few different things and it was so fun to see her on a more personal level rather than at the front of a lecture hall.”
Kamiya snaps a selfie during the clean-up efforts.
For Kamiya, representing his school during UBC Sauder Gives Back served as a reminder of how much he has evolved during the course of his undergraduate education.
“Throughout university I’ve grown in my sense of perspective,” says Kamiya. “I feel proud that my school has these initiatives to give back to the community.”
The volunteer team from UBC Sauder helped sort and pack food at Food Stash Foundation.
Care and attention in sorting and packing surplus food
Emma DiGiosia is program assistant at Food Stash Foundation, one of the partner organizations for UBC Sauder Gives Back. Food Stash Foundation aims to reduce the environmental impact of food waste and bridge the food insecurity gap in Vancouver.
Members of the UBC Sauder community volunteered at a Food Stash Foundation facility to sort surplus food from suppliers like grocery stores, wholesalers and farms. Participants then packaged food for distribution to those in need.
Emma DiGiosia is program assistant at Food Stash Foundation.
“Our organization picks up food that is destined for the bin and redistributes it around the city to different charities, at our Rescued Food Market, or within our food boxing program,” explains DiGiosia.
She notes that the volunteer team from UBC Sauder took great care and attention in preparing the food bags.
“It is so helpful to have the extra hands and all of the bags look really good,” says DiGiosia. “It is nice to have volunteers who pay attention to the instructions regarding people’s food restrictions and allergies.”
Preparing food bags that are catered to the individual preferences and needs of each person helps preserve a level of dignity when it comes to the experience of getting groceries. “I appreciate that volunteers take that into consideration because everyone should have the same access to food,” she says.
The volunteer team from UBC Sauder helped pack frozen meals at A Loving Spoonful for distribution around the community.
The long-term impact of a volunteer shift
After the experience of working in the Food Stash Foundation facility, DiGiosia hopes that volunteers can use their voices to educate other members of the public about the organization and its mandate, and consider their own role in minimizing food waste.
“It’s a way to spread the word to other people and get the Food Stash name out there,” says DiGiosia. “I also hope it influences people to take a second thought before throwing things away and to be more mindful in purchasing items.”
Though UBC Sauder Gives Back has come to a close, there is potential for these volunteer experiences to turn into ongoing commitments with partner organizations and beyond.
Inspired to volunteer? Check out the CUS volunteer guide.
The volunteer team from UBC Sauder at the Ocean Wise Shoreline Clean-up.