Members of Moraine Valley Community College’s Honors Introduction to Psychology class are helping provide food for the homeless as part of a service-learning project. The students created a drive-by food drive, where they safely bring food items to Moraine Valley that Beds Plus Care, an organization seeking to reduce homelessness in Southwest Suburban Cook County, will use to make 50-60 bagged lunches for their clients. The first food drive was held at the end of September, with additional drives planned in October and November.
“I have included a service-learning project in my Honors Introduction to Psychology class for several years as a way to reinforce concepts we cover and meet specific educational goals,” said Nick Shizas, professor of psychology at Moraine Valley, said. “The students gain the insight they would not get from a textbook.”
In the past, students assisted in serving homeless individuals a meal as part of their service-learning project. However, COVID-19 made that impossible. “I called the organization to see how my students could help, and they asked if we could provide food for lunches for three days during the fall semester,” Shizas said.
He and Dr. Alicea Toso, manager of the Honors Program and Liberal Arts Student Support Services, collaborated to develop a safe food drive. Students social distance as they bring designated food items to drop-off locations at the college. Shizas later delivers the food to St. Mark Lutheran Church in Worth, where the lunches are packed and distributed to Beds Plus Care clients.
In addition to giving food at the drive-by food drive, students also must complete another public service activity at area organizations offering safe volunteer opportunities such as Together We Cope, Palos Restoration Project, Oak Lawn Community Church Food Pantry or Feed My Starving Children. The students are required to give a class presentation to share the insights they gained and psychological concepts they saw while volunteering.
“The projects are meant to incorporate course materials with civic engagement,” Shizas said. “The students become more involved in their learning as they perform valuable community service.”