Marietta residents Sarah McMurry and Caroline Lauder know the joy of compassion. Both young ladies along with their friends gave back to their community by helping with a special Valentine's Day project for children at MUST Ministries.
A few years ago, McMurry’s mother, Anna Longacre, took over as the volunteer coordinator of MUST Ministries’ food pantry. “I’ve been going monthly ever since,” said McMurry, age 16 and a junior at the Walker School. Her father is Jonathan McMurry. She has 2 brothers.
“We’ve been volunteering at MUST Ministries for four to five years,” McMurry said.
In April 2020, the food pantry rapidly changed due to the pandemic. “We went from serving 35 families a month to about 200 families a week. I was there every week building the boxes to distribute. I took on a much active role last year,” McMurry said.
Volunteers coordinated different projects at the food pantry in addition to distributing food.
“Last February, we started an art night for the kids who came with their parents to get food. We had cookies, watercolors, markers. We had a fun night so that the kids had something to do while their parents were getting the food. We gave out the boxes of Valentines for kids to give out in their classes,” McMurry said.
“I think this is a really fulfilling project for me and being able to know that I’m impacting other people’s lives and to form connections with those people in need and other people in my community. Bringing people into the world of service makes it so impactful to me,” McMurry said.
This year Lauder volunteered to coordinate the Valentine’s project.
“Some of the kids we see at the food pantry each month may not be able to buy Valentines to exchange with their classmates on Valentine's Day. I know I always got really excited about trading Valentines with my friends and classmates. so when Dr. Longacre, and her daughter Sarah, mentioned a possible Valentine's project, that’s the first idea that came to mind,” said 13-year-old Caroline Lauder, a 7th grader at the Walker School.
“I have been blessed with the ability to bring in Valentines every year, but I also know that if I couldn't, I would be crushed. So, I did everything I could think of to make sure that that does not happen to these MUST kids,” said Lauder, the daughter of Melanie and Jim Lauder. She has 2 brothers.
Lauder fell in love with volunteering when she saw the smiling faces of other kids with whom she shared.
“You can serve in so many ways. Some people have time, some people have money and some people have gifts to share. Also, Jesus tells us to serve. He sat in front of His disciples and washed their feet. The King of all kings was a servant, so shouldn’t we be servants too? To me, serving means giving back, to your church, to your elders, to the homeless, to whoever needs it. Serving means spreading love,” Lauder said.
“I’ve really seen the need in our community. I want to be involved in helping these people. I think it’s an important part of us—being a Christian and being a good member of my community. That’s why I actively dedicate so much time to helping people. I am proud of the fact that I’ve been able to get involved and raise so much money and help people who need it,” McMurry said.