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Food, sewing drive benefits ARDS

The spirit of giving is alive and well at Troy University.

Members of the school’s Nutrition Club recently made a generous donation of much-needed clinic supplies to the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services’ Children’s Rehabilitation Service program. Giving is nothing new for the club, organizer Dr. Teresa Johnson said. “Every year as part of the club activities they have a community project,” she said. “Last year they did a canned food drive  or the Montgomery Cancer Center, where we have a research study going on. This year they were looking around and thought it would be really good to supply some of those feeding clinics.”

Johnson’s familiarity with ADRS made it an easy choice. Johnson, who has worked with the department since the 1990s as a dietitian contacted SLP Program Specialist Sonia Cleckler to gauge the needs of CRS. Soon the  partnership was off and running. Johnson said she expected her students to respond with enthusiasm as they always  have, but she was pleasantly surprised to see the campaign become a community effort. Because the need was so great, Johnson said they reached out to other organizations  who were more than happy to help. The sewing ministry of Southside Baptist Church in  Troy created more than 100 large feeding bibs for older children, and Greek organizations at Troy University participated in a food drive. A local high school even conducted a “baby food war” to see which class could collect the most. In the end, Johnson said they collected more than 1,000 food items. Even aspiring artists got in on the action. Several Troy University Art Club students created feeding mats with different themes for children with low vision.

Cleckler said CRS representatives were blown away by the donation. “I can’t say enough about those clothing protectors and how badly they are needed,” she said. “Especially in the bigger sizes. And how awesome it was that the art department created food themed placemats.” Johnson said it was incredible to see how excited everyone was to help. “Everybody has a different skill set,” she said. “The list that Sonia provided was very diverse, and that just sparked people to reach out to different organizations.”

The food and supply drive is a win-win for the students and ADRS, Johnson said,  because it creates a familiarity between students and the department. Club president Natalie Barrows, who is studying to become a registered dietician, will complete a 135-hour observation with the Homewood CRS office.

Club Vice President Catie Daniel, who is studying to become an occupational therapist, has also completed observations through ADRS clinics. Johnson said she is excited about the possibility of partnering with ADRS programs again in the future.