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student holding bags of groceries at choice pantry food bank

The Power of Choice

Volunteering at Miami

Finding a way to give back at Miami—whether locally or globally—is easy. Joining a service fraternity or student organization or working with the Office of Community Engagement and Service (OCES) are all ways to get involved. Through its main tenets of service-learning, community opportunities, and advocacy and activism, OCES helps students find ways to make a positive impact on the world around them. Miami is also the recipient of several prestigious awards for its commitment to service:

  • Miami received the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement in 2010, the only public institution in Ohio to do so.
  • Miami has been named to The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll every year since 2007.
Shawnee Waters
Shawnee Waters is one of several students who dedicate time to the pantry.

Miami students give back to the community through a unique service opportunity

By Jessica Barga (’15), intern in the office of University Communications & Marketing

At a university as beautiful as Miami, it's sometimes easy to forget that there are people struggling financially within the community of Oxford. Senior Sherry Wang not only remembers — she actively works to give them a hand.

A social work and psychology double major, Wang chose her studies with a bigger picture in mind. “A lot of stuff happening in the world today is really sad. Oxford seems wealthy and beautiful, but there is poverty here. It’s just hiding,” she said.

Making a Difference, Differently

Wang is one of many student volunteers who lend a hand at the Oxford Choice Pantry. The pantry is different because it is a ‘choice’ pantry, as the name denotes.

While regular food pantries simply provide their customers with a premade basket of food, the choice pantry allows them to pick and choose their own food products based on nutritional guidelines. It’s a process that teaches healthy choices and aids in empowering customers who may otherwise feel helpless.

Former Oxford Press editor Bob Ratterman has been heading the pantry since July 2013. He echoed Wang’s sentiment about Oxford’s need for the service.

“There used to be a priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church who would say, ‘Oxford has poverty. It just hides it well.’  That is true. Many people using the pantry are employed, but they do not make enough to survive,” Ratterman said.

He added that the most rewarding part of his job is the ability to make a difference in others’ lives. “Being able to help people, knowing that we are providing a basic need for those who are simply trying to feed their families and finding it increasingly difficult to do so, is what I enjoy most about my job.” 

All Are Welcome

Junior Shawnee Waters, an early childhood education major, explained that simply being there for people is a primary focus for the pantry and for herself.

“I love that this pantry makes the customers feel important and how it pushes for their success,” she said. “All of my duties there require a smile, positivity and an interest in the people we’re serving. It’s essential that we let our customers know they’re important and cared for by the pantry.” 

What started as a service-learning project for one of Peter Engelhard’s classes blossomed into a continuing commitment to helping people. Engelhard, an integrative studies and business management technology double major, has also been volunteering at the pantry for nearly a year.

“I wanted to volunteer at an organization that’s close to home, somewhere I can help people and make their days better with a smile,” Engelhard said. “I decided that the Choice Pantry was the organization for me.” 

Reaching Out for a Purpose

Wang said the choice pantry has given her opportunities to meet people from all walks of life.

“At the pantry, I’ve met people I would never meet otherwise at Miami,” Wang said. “One thing I really enjoy is going on food deliveries with Mr. Ratterman. Sometimes people can’t make it to the pantry or have special needs, so we will bring the food to them. People are always just so, so appreciative of it.”

Engelhard, who wears many hats as a shopping assistant, receptionist and stocker at the pantry, said he feels service is a way to actively engage with people in the community.

“I enjoy talking to customers and the other volunteers and asking how their day is going. You can really make a difference in a person’s life by helping out,” he said.

Waters agreed, saying that for her, volunteering at the pantry is not just an activity, but also a passion.

“I love everything about this pantry and this community. I love the people I meet and the conversations we have. I love that I can be a friend to someone when they feel like they have none. I have made friends here that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

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Volunteering at the Oxford Community Choice Pantry is a pastime—and passion— for many students.

Volunteering at the Oxford Community Choice Pantry is a pastime—and passion— for many students.

Pantry director Bob Ratterman and a community volunteer stock the shelves before customers arrive.

Pantry director Bob Ratterman and a community volunteer stock the shelves before customers arrive.

Bob Ratterman has headed the pantry since July 2013.

Bob Ratterman has headed the pantry since July 2013.

Shawnee Waters helps move food donations into the shopping area.

Shawnee Waters helps move food donations into the shopping area.

Peter Engelhard is one of the several Miami students who volunteer at the pantry.

Peter Engelhard is one of the several Miami students who volunteer at the pantry.

Peter Engelhard helps stock the pantry’s shelves with canned goods.

Peter Engelhard helps stock the pantry’s shelves with canned goods.

Volunteering at Miami

Finding a way to give back at Miami—whether locally or globally—is easy. Joining a service fraternity or student organization or working with the Office of Community Engagement and Service (OCES) are all ways to get involved. Through its main tenets of service-learning, community opportunities, and advocacy and activism, OCES helps students find ways to make a positive impact on the world around them. Miami is also the recipient of several prestigious awards for its commitment to service:

  • Miami received the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement in 2010, the only public institution in Ohio to do so.
  • Miami has been named to The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll every year since 2007.
Locations
Luxembourg
West Chester
Middletown
Hamilton
Oxford
  • Luxembourg
    Luxembourg

    John E. Dolibois European Center, Luxembourg

    One of Miami's oldest continuous study abroad programs, the Miami University John E. Dolibois Center (MUDEC) in Luxembourg offers students the opportunity to enroll in Miami classes taught by European-based and Ohio-based Miami faculty. Students enjoy a unique combination of first-class academics, engagement in the local community, and various faculty-guided and independent travel opportunities.

    Contact and emergency information for the Luxembourg Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    Château de Differdange
    1, Impasse du Château
    L-4524 Differdange
    Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
    luxembourg@MiamiOH.edu
    MiamiOH.edu/luxembourg

    217-222 MacMillan Hall
    531 E. Spring Street
    Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA

    Directions

    Main Operator: 011-352-582222-1
    Oxford-based Coordinator: 513-529-5050
    Emergency info: MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • West Chester
    West Chester

    Voice of America Learning Center

    Located midway between Cincinnati and Dayton along I-75, the Voice of America Learning Center (VOALC) offers undergraduate and graduate courses and programs drawn from Miami's Regional and Oxford campuses. Home to Miami's MBA program, the Learning Center provides ready access to graduate programs for area educators and courses leading to the BIS degree for undergraduates.

    Contact and emergency information for the Voice of America Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    7847 VOA Park Dr.
    (Corner of VOA Park Dr. and Cox Rd.)
    West Chester, OH 45069
     
    voalc@MiamiOH.edu
    MiamiOH.edu/voalc

    Printable Floor Plan
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-895-8862
    (From Middletown) 513-217-8862
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Middletown
    Middletown

    Middletown Regional Campus

    Nestled on 141 acres near I-75, Miami University Middletown offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and beginning coursework for most four-year degrees. Nearby Greentree Health Science Academy immerses Miami's nursing and health information technology students in the health care experience while taking classes.

    Contact and emergency information for the Middletown Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

     4200 N. University Blvd.
    Middletown, OH 45042
    regionalwebmaster@MiamiOH.edu
    regionals.MiamiOH.edu

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-727-3200
    (Toll-free) 1-86-MIAMI-MID
    Office of Admission: 513-727-3216
    Campus Status Line: 513-727-3477
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Hamilton
    Hamilton

    Hamilton Regional Campus

    A compact, friendly, commuter campus, Miami Hamilton offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and beginning coursework for most four-year degrees. Small class sizes, on-site child care, and flexible scheduling make Miami Hamilton attractive to students at all stages of life and career.

    Contact and emergency information for the Hamilton Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    1601 University Blvd.
    Hamilton, OH 45011
    regionalwebmaster@MiamiOH.edu
    regionals.MiamiOH.edu

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-785-3000
    Office of Admission: 513-785-3111
    Campus Status Line: 513-785-3077
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Oxford
    Oxford

    Miami University, Oxford Ohio

    Nationally recognized as one of the most outstanding undergraduate institutions, Miami University is a public university located in Oxford, Ohio. With a student body of 16,000, Miami effectively combines a wide range of strong academic programs with faculty who love to teach and the personal attention ordinarily found only at much smaller institutions.

    Contact and emergency information for the Oxford Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    501 E. High St.
    Oxford, OH 45056

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-529-1809
    Office of Admission: 513-529-2531
    Vine Hotline: 513-529-6400
    Emergency info: MiamiOH.edu/emergency