Students give back during JMBA community service week
By Francie Weinberg
The John Marshall Bar Association’s annual community service week Oct. 8-14 gave students at the University of Florida Levin College of Law an easy and fun to way to give back to the community.
The week began on Monday, Oct. 8, with Canned Immunity, a canned food drive that donates directly to St. Francis House, a homeless shelter and soup kitchen in downtown Gainesville.
For the second year in a row, students of Professors John Stinneford, Lyrissa Lidsky, Mark Fenster, Lea Johnston, Lee-ford Tritt and Jason Nance who brought cans to class were granted “immunity,” and were not called on for the day. Students also brought cans to the JMBA table. Approximately 650 cans were donated.
“I required students to bring at least two cans to class to get immunity,” Stinneford said. “When calling on students, I generally did not look to see whether they had the cans so they could claim immunity in front of the class and hopefully motivate classmates to bring their own cans the next day. I even let one unprepared student claim retroactive immunity by bringing his cans the following day. It was definitely a good time, and I’m glad to hear it was successful in gathering food for the needy.”
On Oct. 11, JMBA hosted a community service social at Mother’s Pub and Grill. Proceeds went to Caiti Pomerance, a second-year law student who will be biking from Maryland to California next summer in the 4K for Cancer benefiting the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
Along the way, Pomerance and her bike group will participate in cancer-related service projects, including visiting cancer centers, cooking dinner at Hope Lodges and participating in Pedal Pals. Pomerance brought her journal to Mother’s to allow attendees to write down names of anyone they knew who were affected by cancer so she could ride in honor or memory of them. The social raised $820 and JMBA donated $180 to make it an even $1,000.
Throughout the weekend, the JMBA general board participated in onsite community service at four different organizations — The Retirement Home for Horses, Puppy Hill Farm, Hospice Attic Resale Store and Al’z Place.
The horses are no longer ridden or required to work. Eight law school volunteers helped to groom and feed them. An additional 12 volunteers helped adoptions at PetSmart with Puppy Hill Farm by walking, cleaning and attending to the dogs and cats at the store.
Puppy Hill Farm rescues animals from “kill shelters” and helps to adopt or obtain foster homes for them. Seven members helped sort through and clean items at Hospice Attic Resale Store, which donates proceeds to Haven Hospice.
Finally, 10 members volunteered at Al’z Place on Oct. 19 by going to music class and playing games with the day clinic’s attendees affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
“I was nervous people would be reluctant to help just because, as law students, a lot of times we get caught up,” said Kelly Wicker, vice president of community service for JMBA. “People really want to help; they just have to have people who are willing to get them out there.”
One of Wicker’s favorite community service events is making food baskets of full Thanksgiving dinners. Representatives will be coming around to classes to explain how students can participate starting in November.