NWIC students prepare, donate food to Little Bear Creek elders

Make A Difference Day is the largest national day of community service, during which millions of volunteers around the world unite to improve the lives of others. At Northwest Indian College (NWIC), this day did not go unrecognized, thanks to the dedication of students and the community-service-oriented force that is the college’s Indigenous Service Learning Office.

On Oct. 24 – three days before the official Make a Difference Day – NWIC students gathered under the college’s old apple trees, which are some of the last remains of the orchard that grew on campus before it was campus.

The trees still flourish, bursting with apples each fall. This fall was no different. The trees did very well. Occasionally, an NWIC student or employee picks one up for a snack, but many of the apples remain on the ground until they are absorbed back into it.

All of those apples inspired NWIC Indigenous Service Learning employees, who decided to ask students to help them gather the apples and transform them into baked goods that would be delivered to the elders at Little Bear Creek.

In all, at least 26 students participated in the gathering and baking, said Mark Schneider, AmeriCorps Retention Project Coordinator at NWIC, who organized Make a Difference Day activities.

“It was amazing to see so many students come together,” Schneider said. “I saw people who were really devoted to the work and put a lot of love and care into picking and baking the apples. There was a real sense of community and purpose with this project.”

Schneider said the event allowed students to work together towards a common goal and make use of apples that might have otherwise gone to waste, and all of the work benefited the elders.

“We wanted the outcome of the day to serve the Lummi community,” Schneider said, “and it felt like we were able to do that.”

After gathering and picking apples 11 boxes of apples, students and employees baked six of them into 60 apple crisps, which were donated to Little Bear Creek for the Elder’s Birthday Lunch, and donated the remaining five boxes to the Lummi Commodity Foods program.

For more information about NWIC’s Indigenous Service Learning Office, which offers students credit for community service projects, contact Ane Berrett at (360) 392-4213 or email aberrett@nwic.edu.