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Students Volunteering for and Working at Feeding Tampa Bay Say it's a Rewarding and Fulfilling Experience

By Alyssa England, Intern

1.7 million food insecure individuals in the counties we serve

TAMPA (November 13, 2020) -- With the hopes of achieving a hunger-free Tampa Bay by 2025, Feeding Tampa Bay focuses on providing food to the hundreds of thousands of food insecure families in the 10-county area of West Central Florida.

The nonprofit, which is part of the national Feeding America network, serves as the driving force behind all food relief in Tampa Bay. Its goal: change lives one meal at a time by leading the community in the fight against hunger. A big part of the machinery within the organization is its volunteerism. And a part of that is a group of Muma College of Business students who volunteer and work there and who helped deliver more than 65 million meals that were served last year.

Sonia Duraimurugan, a USF MBA student, found Feeding Tampa Bay as an undergraduate marketing intern and now works full time as a community-engagement associate. Passionate about marketing for small businesses and non-profits, Duraimurugan has worked full-time at FTB since June. She creates content to introduce the organization to elementary and middle school students and conducts research on communication methods on college campuses throughout the Tampa Bay area.

“My expectation going into the internship was that like most internships, I would be handling small tasks,” Duraimurugan said. “To my surprise, I was able to get more involved within the organization than expected. I was able to utilize my passion for research and run a research project on how a non-profit should communicate with the 18-25 year old demographic.”

Her work as an intern prepared her for her current role as a community-engagement associate, where she maintains connections with college and university organizations and adapts FTB curriculum targeting elementary and middle school students.

FTB distributes an average of 2 million meals weekly, a feat that would not be possible without the help of compassionate volunteers.

“We see many USF student groups come in and volunteer,” Duraimurugan said. “This semester, one group that came out was the American Marketing Association.”

In addition to hosting groups, FTB hosts the Student Ambassador Program, which allows college students to use their voice to spread the work of FTB across their friend and social media networks. Like an internship, student ambassadors post on their social media channels on behalf of FTB and volunteer on-location three times per semester.

Kendall Hill, a Muma College of Business marketing student, began her role as a student ambassador on Nov. 6. She is working now to promote FTB’s 12 Days of Giving.

“Since we can’t do food drives with COVID,” Hill said, “12 Days of Giving is like a monetary food drive where we promote a fundraiser for twelve days. We try to have our families, friends and colleagues donate.”

Hill’s involvement with FTB began before her involvement as a student ambassador.

“I started working with FTB when I was a senior in high school,” Hill said. “I was in Future Business Leaders of America, and I was president in my senior year. Our state project was to help Feeding America based in Florida and since our closest one was FTB, some of my officers and members and I went to the warehouse and did the organization of the food. I went to a connected middle school and high school, so we decided to do a middle school versus high school food drive.” 

FTB has a food pantry on the USF campus, and both Hill and Duraimurugan encourage USF students to get involved. Volunteers are always needed at the USF pantry and others across Tampa Bay and applications for the Student Ambassador Program are available here.

Both Duraimurugan and Hill agree on the biggest reward for working with FTB: seeing the direct positive impact made in the community.

Passionate about fashion, Hill hopes to own her own fashion company that gives back to local causes, with FTB at the top of her list. In her role as a community engagement associate, Duraimurugan has enjoyed becoming part of the FTB family and helping to provide the food that makes tomorrow possible.

“I feel like people don’t know there are so many different ways they can help others, and not just with FTB” Hill said, “I’ve always wanted to make sure people are learning about and doing all they can.”