Syuri at food bank

The wind cuts through the crisp air, as over a hundred community members are wrapped around the LAYC/Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers office in Riverdale.  Families are chatting with each other and waiting for the monthly food distribution to begin. The food bank delivery truck arrives, and volunteers spring into action unloading over 6,000 pounds of food.  One of those volunteers is Suemi Smith, and she is with her 13 year old daughter Syuri. Suemi and Syuri are frequent volunteers at the monthly food bank.  

“Syuri has loved coming to Riverdale to support the food distribution. My daughter, she’s mixed, and she is proud of her roots. She understands that there is a need in the community, and she wanted to help in any way possible.  She has a passion to give back to her community.” Suemi says of her daughter.

Although the pair have been volunteering in Riverdale for the past two years, today Syuri comes to the foodbank with a special goal in mind.   A year ago, Syuri set a goal to collect as many warm weather clothing items as she could to give back to her community for the upcoming holidays.  She has spent the past year asking family members, friends, and neighbors if they could donate warm weather items to those in need.  

“I started to volunteer because I wanted to help my Latin and immigrant community. I find joy in helping others, making a difference in their lives and seeing them smile. I wanted to start the coat service project because I know the cold season is approaching and there [are] people who aren’t able to provide their families with warm clothing through the winter,” said Syuri.

As a result of the coat drive, Syuri was able to collect over eight boxes of winter weather gear for boys, girls, women, and men to distribute at the food bank!  This included coats, shoes, shirts, sweaters, pants, hats, gloves, and men’s dress shirts and ties.

“My favorite thing about volunteering with LAYC is being able to be around others with the same passion as [me] when it comes to helping others. Seeing the volunteers at LAYC [has] motivated me to do more for those in need. I truly see the difference they make in people’s lives everyday,” says Syuri.

On the third Thursday of every month, in partnership with The Capital Area Food Bank and Transforming Neighborhood Initiatives, LAYC/MMYC hosts a food distribution for families to receive free nutritious goods such as produce, milk, pasta, breads, rice, vegetables and more.  Families can also participate in workshops and learn about additional community resources during the distribution. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer like Suemi and Syuri, please email Jackie Orellana:

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