Helping to feed community children during pandemic

Normally during the summer, myself [Ethan Thombs ’22] and my brother Luke [Class of 2020] would be working with kids from all over the country at Camp Mechuwana in Winthrop, Maine. Our father, Norman Thombs, has been the executive director of the camp for 30-plus years, so being at the camp has had a huge impact on our lives.

However, because of the coronavirus, we have been doing something different. My dad found out that some of the schools in the local area (Monmouth and Winthrop, Maine) would not be providing meals to their students during the pandemic. When he found out about this, he immediately contacted the state to see if Mechuwana could become a feeding center for these people in the community. Thankfully, the state approved and we have been providing meals every day to these two towns and more. We also have been delivering to two separate areas a bit further north (Vienna and, recently, Salem, Maine).

All of the volunteers here have a huge connection to the town of Monmouth. A handful of us graduated from Monmouth Academy (our local high school). My father and a few others have also lived in Monmouth for a fair amount of time. So being able to volunteer to help a community that has meant a great deal to us means a lot.

We get up every morning at 9 a.m. and we start to pack the meals into separate bags. My father, and a few other coaches who volunteer then take the meals to locations where people from the community will come and pick up their meals. We make enough so that we are able to feed people seven days a week. Us college students who make the meals have been quarantining at the camp for 40-plus days now. School has begun to wind down, but we found a way to balance all of our school work and this program through it all.

I am a visual art major and I am going to be a junior in the fall of 2020. Being able to do something like this during a time of uncertainty helps bring into perspective how lucky I am to go to a school like Wheaton College. Through all the classes I have taken at Wheaton, along with all the experiences Wheaton has been able to provide me, I feel that I am better prepared to try and make a difference in those around me.

Being a visual art major, I find myself struggling to create art that I normally would want to make (which is art that makes people feel joy and be amazed with what they are looking at). However, this situation has pushed me to create/find work that makes me want to pause and take a step back to try and find the positives when there is so much negative in the world. I find myself looking back at older work I have made and wanting to find out what I truly want to do with what I have learned. Although we may be in a pandemic, I realize now more than ever that I want to travel for a portion of my life and try to find the good things in a negative situation. Eventually, I think I want to be an art professor (specifically photography). I don’t think I would have ever realized that if it wasn’t for Wheaton.—Ethan

I am a business and management major. Being a part of this camp program illustrates what I was taught growing up: you help the community that you live in. My mother and father have always pressed this ideal into my head and my brother’s. Therefore, as I graduate now, this relates to the work I hope to be doing in the future. Working for nonprofits, volunteering where I know I can make a difference, doing programs like AmeriCorps, Peace Corps or Conservation Corps. If I can do my small part in this world to help others, then I believe I would have lived a fulfilled life.—Luke