Sara Kiolbassa, applied sociology senior, created a food and donation drive competition at her internship with the marketing department at Nexus Medical Consulting Company. Kiolbassa must hold an internship position as well as create a special project within that company to satisfy her degree requirements.
Lois Hickman, internship coordinator for the Applied Sociology program, said the goal of the required internship and special project is to help students apply sociology to an average internship, and come away with a better understanding of professionalism.
“We would like (students) to walk away knowing that they are leaving with some skills they can carry on to other careers,” Hickman said.
Hickman said Kiolbassa’s project is a good example of how sociology examines groups in society.
“Her particular project, making something competitive that would help people who need food, is perfect for us, as well as building the team,” Hickman said.
Kiolbassa said she collected 989 pounds of food by the end of the competition, falling 11 pounds short of her 1,000 pound goal. This is because many teams collected pastas and rice that do not weigh much but still manage feed a lot of people, Kiolbassa said.
Each donation gathered from her competition was given to the Hays County Food Bank, and was scored based on a system Kiolbassa created. Teams were awarded points based on the types of items received, Kiolbassa said.
Kiolbassa said for monetary donations, she gave points double the amount of money given. She said the more expensive items and the priority items were given the most points.
Jim Wagner, volunteer coordinator for the Hays County Food Bank, said priority items, which are needed most by the food bank, are typically canned meats and canned fruits.
Wagner said Kiolbassa’s project helped Hays County because the food donations stay within the region. He said the monetary donations help fill holes and replenish items that were not donated during the drive.
Besides collecting food and money for the Hays County Food Bank, Kiolbassa said her project helped co-workers at Nexus Medical Consulting get to know each other outside of their departments. There are about 50 employees working in a number of departments at Nexus, a San Marcos-based company that opened in 2009, she said.
Kiolbassa said a challenge she ran into during her project was motivating people within the company to participate in the food drive.
“There were a bunch of frontrunners that were donating so much and then there were people that didn’t seem to want involvement with it, or just kind of ignored the fact that it was there,” Kiolbassa said. “That was just a little disheartening.”
Wagner said the Hays County Food Bank is always looking for volunteers with special talents such as Kiolbassa who can create projects similar to the food drive competition.
“Without volunteers, we could not finish the job of feeding the hungry in Hays County, no matter
how many donations we got in,” Wagner said.