Karen Benton, associate professor and criminal justice program coordinator, said service to others is a fundamental part of criminal justice.
“Criminal justice students at Clark State are provided opportunities to learn our community resources and also understand limitations that impact citizens’ quality of life. This activity provides our students with the opportunity to see how community organizations and members can come together to support those in need,” she said.
Student Hayley Boling said it feels great to be out helping the community.
“Unfortunately, we can’t deliver the meals to families, but we’re still helping out and making a difference in the community that one day some of us might serve in. If not, that’s where our college is and we’re very appreciative and glad to do this for them,” she said.
The criminal justice club and police academy students collected nonperishable food items through October for the program, as well as bought additional food items from Meijer through monetary donations to the police division.
The Box 21 truck delivered the dinners and supplemental food items to the families on Tuesday. The items were sorted and boxed by volunteers from the college and the Springfield Police Division’s Alumni Association for the 25 families, compared to the 10 families that have been served in the past.
“The impact of COVID in our community has contributed to the need for more families to be assisted this year,” Benton said.
Operation Thanksgiving has served families in the community for 30 years, and this is the fourth year the Clark State Criminal Justice Club has participated since it was established in 2018.
“I’m proud the club members realize they need to have an understanding of all people that they serve,” Benton said. “This gives them the chance to actually compare what is discussed in the classrooms to who they will be working with. They will see that community is part of the partnership.”
Boling said it’s important to serve the community.
“It’s important as a criminal justice major to be involved in the community you serve. You get more done in the community than you do anywhere else on the job ... It’s one of the most important things.”