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UofSC med students step up to volunteer during pandemic

With many people unable to continue volunteer services, the UofSC School of Medicine has students that want to help.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Salvation Army has been serving three meals a day at Transitions Homeless Center in Columbia for over 10 years. 

With the COVID9 pandemic, many of their volunteers are unable to serve their normal three meals a day.

Luckily, a group of University of South Carolina medical students were looking to give back during this time. 

Student organizer Christina Romano tells News19, "When the pandemic was first starting out, me and some friends emailed some local seniors that we were connected with through the medical school and older faculty offering to get their groceries and then administration heard about that and asked me to head up the volunteer efforts of the school and to be student director and we got connected to the Greenville Campus, Prisma and united way of the midlands and united way was the one who connected us with Salvation Army and Transitions and all these other charities we’ve been working with.”

The two teamed up and the group of students helped serve Easter meals to hundreds of homeless who line up at Transitions.

“The USC School of Medicine stepped up to fill all of the voids that I had needing volunteers to help pack these meals," Lisa Huffman director of public relations, volunteer services and emergency disaster services representative for The Salvation Army of the Midlands tells News19, “They come with their own equipment, masks, everything. They're more informed because they're medical students and they really have stepped up to the plate to help us make these meals happen.”

"Medical students, you know, we're dedicating our lives to help people but we're not at that stage right now where we can actually help in the hospitals- we're not far along enough in our training," Romano explains, "So, just sitting at home watching everything unfold- we have a lot of nervous energy. So, this gives us a way to still help out, be fulfilled and put our nervous energy to something productive."

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Meals were placed in to go boxes and small groups lined up to receive meals at a time to ensure safe distribution and social distancing.

“Its one of the true meanings of Easter," Romano says, "celebrating the life of Jesus who reached out to those in need and gave them a helping hand- so its nice to be able to repeat that sentiment today.”

The group will be serving through April and after as they are needed. 

If you would like to volunteer with the Salvation Army, reach out to Lisa Huffman at 803-309-0436.

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