There is simple peace in the quiet hum of labeling boxes, stacking tuna cans and organizing incoming donations at the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid.
Every week, a group of Mesquite ISD (MISD) special education students arrive to help stock the shelves, organize shoes and create order out of chaos.
Students gain job skills while serving
For some students, this is a paid opportunity by the state to learn valuable job skills while volunteering with Buckner. They are a part of the MISD transition services work program, also known as the Pre-Employment Transition Services.
“The Transition Program strives to make our students productive citizens upon graduation,” shared Kiffany Jefferson, MISD skills trainer. “We work on improving students’ employability skills, independent living skills and community participation skills.”
The work the students accomplish in a few short hours is remarkable.
Teamwork and efficiency shine each week
Skills trainers work alongside the students to guide what their next responsibilities are, but typically, they are having fun and enjoying each other’s company while staying on task.
Partnering with Buckner creates opportunities to discuss who these items are for and why it is important to give back.
“Volunteering teaches the students the importance of giving back while meeting new people within the community, and it promotes positive interaction, support and encouragement for everyone,” Kiffany shared.
Students are safely able to meet in person again
Valerie Tran and Bobby Deets, both skills trainers, love this outlet for the students to gain hands-on experience.
In March 2020, when the pandemic shut most things down, this opportunity was put on pause too.
The class met virtually at that time, but it was a great relief for the trainers, students and parents when they could safely come back in March 2021.
“We really missed out on an element of building skills through virtual learning. It’s great to be back in the warehouse putting what they learn into actions,” Bobby said. “There are just some things that are better when you do them in person, and this is one of those things. We love it. Volunteering helps us all understand that there are different needs in all walks of life.”