Story and photos by Jennifer Scales, Columbia VA Health Care System Public Affairs

High school senior Dana DeVeaux does her share in volunteering with her peers July 9 at Harvest Hope.

Dana DeVeaux, a high school senior with hopes to attend either Yale, Duke or the University of South Carolina honors program, was one of nearly 40 students in the Summer Volunteer Program of the Columbia VA Health Care System who visited and provided assistance at Harvest Hope Food Bank of the Midlands, July 9.

They helped with sorting, bagging, boxing and making meal packages for the needs of the community.

“This is my third year being a part of the volunteer program and coming to help at Harvest Hope,” DeVeaux said. “This program during the summer months is a great way for teens like me to contribute to the community, while also interacting with Veterans. I work in the GI section at the medical center and it’s like a family atmosphere there. I get a chance to chat with patients before and after their procedures, listening to their fears and their happiness when operations are complete.”

According to DeVeaux, even the smallest gesture makes a big difference.

Elizabeth Williams, volunteer coordinator at Harvest Hope, relies on volunteers for assistance.

“Without volunteers, food may not be prepared in a timely manner. With these students today, they are learning a valuable lesson in the importance of helping others,” Williams said.

“They are learning the importance today of having hands on experience in knowing how blessed and privileged they are,” Columbia VAHCS chief of Community Relations and Engagement Services/acting Volunteer Services Chief, Tammy Finney said. “These military and civilian-middle school and high school kids in the program all want to give back and be a part of their community. This is just one way for them in our program to do just that.”

Featured photo: With media capturing the moment, student volunteers prepare cereal packages during their visit to Harvest Hope of the Midlands, July 9.

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