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Local Community is Grateful for Project Feast and Our Medical Students

Thursday, November 28, 2013

 Sheila Travers and Clinton Tates, the chef and assistant chef of Project Feast, with (left to right) Rachel Smith, Nicole Bouchard, Melanie Muszelik and Maria Driscoll from the Class of 2016.

Students from the School of Medicine organized the 24th annual University of Maryland Project Feast, a Thanksgiving meal for homeless and disadvantaged persons held November 28, 2013 in West Baltimore. Students, faculty and staff from all of the University's professional schools gathered at Booker T. Washington Middle School to host the midday meal. They also provided free clothing, non-perishable food items, blood pressure screenings and a warm, safe place for those who had nowhere else to celebrate the holiday.

Project Feast is a Thanksgiving tradition co-sponsored by the Medical Alumni Association, the University Student Government Association, and the School of Medicine Student Council. Nearly 100 students, faculty and staff from across the campus helped to staff the event. Melanie Muszelik, MS-II, was this year's event chair. “I joined the project last year and acted as a day-of volunteer, while also shadowing the committee to get a good idea of how the day runs,” she explains. “I was then appointed as this year's chair, at which point I recruited some other great students who had participated last year or who expressed interest in being involved in planning this year.”

The group met periodically over a few months to bring together all the logistics involved in providing more than 600 hot meals in just a few hours. Hundreds of cans of food were gathered, both from donations on campus and from local churches. Also, 38 turkeys had to be purchased and cooked up by volunteers. “It was an amazing experience to bring so many resources from our campus to the community,” says Melanie. “I was so impressed by the outpouring of support and energy from other student groups. I hope we can continue to offer these same resources in the future. We were so wonderfully supported financially by the USGA, the Medical Alumni Association, and our Student Council; we could not have done this without them.”

Some might balk at the idea of spending the holiday with a group of strangers rather than family. Yet, Melanie said the day could not have been more joyful. “Everyone was really thankful and just seemed to have a great time,” she says. “There was laughter, prayer, dancing, and lots of sharing of stories. Volunteers also really enjoyed themselves and said they couldn't wait until next year to help again. I can't wait, either. It only seems to get better every year.”

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