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WAYNESVILLE, Mo. — Students from Stephanie Peace’s community-based instruction class at Waynesville High School have spent the past two years helping pack bags of food for district students who might otherwise go hungry.

The students volunteer two days a month to the project, named Snack in a Pack, and they gain valuable workplace skills in the process, Peace said.

“The Community Based Instruction Program at WHS is designed to prepare students for post-secondary ... training/education, employment and independent living,” she said. “Helping with Snack in a Pack gives students job skills experience, teaches them about services available in their community, as well as ways to give back to their community.”

Ashlynn Cardoza, one of Peace’s students, said the volunteer work could help her secure employment in the future.

“I like packing bags and taking inventory because I feel like they are skills I could use in another job,” Cardoza said.

Peace said she feels fulfilled in seeing her students’ personal development.

“It makes me proud to see my students hard at work,” she said. “They realize their potential and that they are included and accepted in their community.”

Anna Wilson, another student in the class, said she enjoys the atmosphere of giving.

“I enjoy doing Snack in a Pack because it helps feed kids, and I like helping people,” Wilson said.

Assisting with feeding the hungry is not the only volunteer work they do, however. During a normal year, the CBI class participates in several other ways, Peace said.

“CBI students volunteer in many areas of the community,” she said. “Mrs. Swan, another CBI teacher, takes a group of students once a week to Loving Paws Animal Adoption Center. Prior to COVID-19, students in our program have volunteered regularly at the Food Pantry, Good Samaritan and the (Waynesville-St. Robert) Chamber of Commerce.”

A coordinator from Snack in a Pack told the Waynesville R-VI School District that the students’ help in establishing food security for those in need is greatly appreciated.