Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Having a positive role model for kids growing up is important, and Richland District One's lunch buddy program aims to provide students with just that.
Five days a week, Jazmen McDaniel goes through the lunch line at Bradley Elementary. But sometimes, she has a special visitor.
"I'm eating here with my lunch buddy miss sabrina," she explains.
Once every two weeks, volunteers like Sabrina Barr take time out of their day to spend one hour with kids at various Richland One schools as a part of the lunch buddy program.
"A lot of business people take time off for this but it is wonderful and rewarding," Barr says.
From empty nesters and retirees to lawyers and doctors, the volunteers dedicate time to bring smiles and help inspire these kids to dream big.
"I would like to grow up and get a good job instead of saying can I take your order," says McDaniel.
One section of those volunteers was a group of 30 people from Eastminster Presbyterian Church who sat with third graders. John McArthur helps with their community outreach program at the church and says the lunch buddy program is about more than just lunch.
"We'll help them with reading a story and then they will have a series of questions," McArthur says.
The school district says the need for volunteers like John is great.
"Certainly they have a lot of other role models and other people who care about them but one more can never hurt., "McArthur says.
These students have goals, and need others to help keep their dreams on track.
"It is important for me to get a good education and go to college because I want to be just like my big brother get good grades and be smart," McDaniel says.
Here are the details on the district's lunch buddy program, courtesy of Richland One.
Position Title: Lunch Buddy
Work Location: Richland County School District One School
Position Duties: A lunch buddy (typically groups of 10 or more) are volunteers that are matched one-on-one with a student to share lunch, fun and friendship twice a month throughout the school year. Helps a student to broaden his/her vision of opportunities, understand the value of education and accomplish academic and personal goals.
A Lunch Buddy is a reliable and motivated person that serves as a:
lBe a Resource
lBe a Guide
Special Skills: Possesses a warm personality; Has a strong commitment to be a role model and advocate for Richland One school-age children; Willing to work under the direct supervision of teacher and follow directions; Ability to relate well to children; Ability to adapt to diverse environments and personalities; Strong written, verbal and listening skills; Patience, and a sense of humor.
Duration of Position: Minimum 45 minutes twice a month throughout the school year is required. Volunteers beginning service after October 1 need to be involved through the following year's fall semester.
Qualifications: Have a desire to contribute positively to a school and students' education; Flexible schedule and able to conduct service at a Richland One school.
Potential volunteers must submit a Richland One volunteer application, South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) Central Registry check form and a copy of a state/government issued picture ID to the preferred site of service. When submitting the volunteer application at the site present a State issued picture ID to be scanned in the approval queue of the volunteer component of V-Soft (to conduct a National Sex Offender Registry Check). The site will then forward the application to the volunteer and mentoring programs coordinator and as funds are available Richland One will conduct the required background checks (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Criminal Records Check and DSS Central Registry Check). Volunteers and schools will be notified when approved via e-mail or mail.
New volunteers must attend a new volunteer orientation at the site of service. Additional training may be required.
Contact: Katy Watkins, CVA
Volunteer & Mentoring Programs Coordinator
1616 Richland Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
(803) 231-7511 / Fax (803) 231-7505