Melissa Chesser instilled the spirit of volunteerism in her daughters at an early age.
Chesser and her daughters Madison, 12, and Megan, 8, have been helping the Columbia County Community Connections Dream Academy by making lunch for children in the program four times a week during the summer for the past three years.
“I’m a teacher (at Evans Middle School) so I just love to help people, “ said Chesser. “ During the summer months I want to keep the kids active and involved, and one way to do that is to volunteer.”
“The Dream Academy works with kids who need extra help through the summer,” explains Pat Grice, Food4Kids Coordinator for CCCC. “The program also provides field trips to places the children might not be able to go to otherwise.”
Thanks to the Chesser family, the participants have always been provided with a meal consisting of a sandwich, chips, pudding cup and drink. The food items have been provided by Columbia County Cares food pantry and a variety of other organizations.
“We make about 50 lunches a day and sometimes twice that many if they have a field trip scheduled the next day,” said Chesser.
She and her daughters spend several hours in the morning making sandwiches of barbecue or chicken salad, or whatever is currently available.
“The girls have been such a big help,” said Grice, “They could walk in here without Melissa and take over the project right now.”
“They know how to make the sandwiches and how many,” said Grice. “Not many kids that age could come in and do that.”
Twelve-year-old Madison enjoys her volunteerism.
“I like to help kids who don’t have a lot of stuff,” explains Madison.
In addition to helping the Dream Academy, Chesser has helped the community in other ways. She is a member of the church council at Lewis Memorial United Methodist Church and has taught the children’s Bible study classes for years.
“I was also active in the Girl Scout program for six of the eight years Madison was a member,” said Chesser.
“I do feel like I have a giving spirit,” said Chesser, “ and I want to get them (her daughters) involved also.”