ASTRA: It’s Peanut Butter, Jelly Time

On the way out of the building, near two large bottles of hand sanitizer, a small embroidered cloth in a wooden frame reads, “It is in giving that we receive the greatest gift.”

This trinket puts into words the actions carried out at the Salvation Army’s Feed My Sheep building located in Temple. It is a place where free meals are given out to the homeless every day by different groups that sign up for specific days of the month.

Students and volunteers take time out of their schedules to pack lunches with sandwiches and other goodies.

Students and volunteers take time out of their schedules to pack lunches with sandwiches and other goodies.

For the university chartered community service organization, ASTRA, Feed My Sheep is a semester-long opportunity in which the organization has committed to serving the first Saturday of the month from September to December.

“We do several events throughout the whole year. I did Feed My Sheep last year as well,” junior journalism major Brittany Pumphrey said. “It is really rewarding, to stop thinking about yourself for a little bit and help someone else in need.”

Members of ASTRA convened Sept. 6, the night before the Feed My Sheep service project, to prepare 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to distribute.

Traci Squarcette, faculty sponsor for ASTRA, and two mothers of members in the ASTRA of Conservatory Club prepared a hot meal of baked spaghetti to be served as well.

Feed My Sheep is the only place in Temple where the homeless can get free meals since the closure of Martha’s Kitchen.

Benjamin Chason is a homeless man who has his food service license and volunteers to help cook meals.

“I live out in the streets with these people every day,” Chason said. “I’ve been coming back and forth volunteering. I also serve at my church; we serve three meals a week.”

ASTRA took over the Feed My Sheep service project from its parent organization, ALTRUSA. This is an international service organization that focuses on literacy and community service.

“It’s nice they (students) take the time to volunteer. It kind of makes you proud,” ALTRUSA member Helen Roland said as she placed her hand over her heart.

Like their parent organization, ASTRA focuses on literacy and participates in various outreaches that support literacy in roundabout ways.

“Feeding the hungry ultimately helps them learn better,” Squarcette said. “We have groups that read to kids through ALTRUSA. When we did Canstruction last year, we built a big book and a book

worm. (It was made up of) about 2,200 cans that went to Helping Hands.”

Last year, ASTRA started with three members. By the end of last semester, the organization had 19 members, and 13 new members signed up at the most recent meeting.

ASTRA meets every Thursday at 6 p.m. in the lecture hall of the Baugh Center for Visual and Performing Arts.

Author: Jasmine Simmons

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