Project Restoration

“Who of you knows a fellow student who comes to your home school hungry?” With that
question, Bain Cameron, Food Pantry Coordinator for Project Restoration, began a culminating
service experience for the Alberta students at the Governor’s School of Southside Virginia
(GSSV). On Friday, January 4, Cameron nodded as almost every junior and senior raised his or
her hand, and Cameron continued his presentation in order to provide the students with more
information concerning their recent charitable efforts.

Over the course of three weeks, between their fall and winter breaks, the GSSV students
collected 650+ items of food, and they chose to donate the canned and boxed goods to
Brunswick County’s Project Restoration Hope Harbour Food Pantry. Laurie Michaelson, GSSV
Director, stated, “Our students often complete projects of giving. For instance, before the
holiday these students, led by math instructor Ann Moore, sent cards and letters to military
personnel serving overseas. They also decided to help fill a food pantry’s shelves that they
believed would be diminished after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.” Students
realized that there is a need for food pantries in the area, but Cameron’s presentation surprised
many.

A former GSSV math instructor, Cameron provided statistics of population, poverty rates, and
supermarkets in the area, and he questioned students about the conclusions that can be reached
from such numbers. Students learned of food insecurity, or the uncertainty of obtaining
nutritionally adequate foods, as well as of food deserts in which at least 500 people (or a third of
a rural area’s population) live more than ten miles from a grocery store. Both Brunswick and
Mecklenburg have areas that meet such designations: “Considering the residents of just
Brunswick County and Mecklenburg County, over 9,000 people are uncertain about whether
they will eat on a particular day.”

Cameron thanked the students for their generous spirits and encouraged them to give of their
time as well. Both Project Restoration food pantries, Hope Harbour in Ebony and Abundant
Love in Bracey, encourage volunteers. Several students who have volunteered at one of the two
pantries spoke of their experiences. Zachary Blackburn talked of the many ways to serve:
“There’s more to do than just carry bags out to cars once a month.” “There’s food to organize,
shelves to stock, orders to bag, and more,” added Noah Whitby. Logan Timm emphasized the
positive relationship that the volunteers and workers share with those who are in need: “I really
enjoy the connections and the fact that the entire set-up allows people their dignity. The people
who come to the pantry can select, can choose the food that they want. It’s like a grocery store
that even provides fresh produce, too.”

Hope Harbour Food Pantry, located at 1411 Robinson Ferry Road in Ebony, distributes food the
third Saturday of each month, while Abundant Love Food Pantry, located at 3764 Route 903 in
Bracey, distributes food the fourth Saturday of each month.

Wendy Kidd, GSSV English instructor, spoke highly of the governor’s school students: “Every
day that I totaled the collected cans, I realized the thoughtfulness of our students, especially
students such as Jessie Li, Genesis Martinez, Beth Moody, Stephanie Gund, and Ethan Stanley,
who brought in boxes of cans. Such kindness and generosity better this world. I wonder about
the mark each will make.”