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Lunch Buddies program searching for spring semester mentors, co-mentors

Ashley Miller/Staff Photographer Volunteer Center lunch buddy Ellaine Ursuy, a Clio sophomore, helps third grade students Jasmine Dortch, left, Georgia Humphrey and Madisyn Auker make a "cheese man" during lunch time on Friday at Vowles Elementary School, 1560 Watson Road, in Mount Pleasant. "It's kinda hard though (to make a cheese man). He has no head, just hair. That's what makes him cool," Jasmine said.

Lunch Buddies is searching for new mentors and co-mentors for the spring 2020 semester. 

The program, sponsored by the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center, has sign-ups open on Engage Central until next semester. Those who sign up will go through an interview process and background check.  

Lunch Buddies is a mentoring program in which Central Michigan University students are paired with an local elementary school student. The program works with seven elementary schools: Shepherd, Ganiard, Pullen, Fancher, McGuire, Vowles and Saginaw Chippewa Academy. 

The goal of the program is to provide elementary students with positive role models, create positive relationships with school and encourage healthy nutrition and physical activity.  The program works with at-risk children selected by staff at the schools. 

If an individual signs up as a mentor, they will be assigned a specific child for the academic year. Mentors interact with their buddies at lunch and recess. Volunteers are expected to spend one hour at their designated elementary school every Friday morning or afternoon, and one hour at a mentor development session once a month. 

If someone decides to be a co-mentor, they will not have a specific student, but instead will be available for any students who need a buddy for the day. So if a mentor is unable to attend, a co-mentor can take their place. 

Macomb junior and student site coordinator Kiah Anderson said she encourages any student of any major to join and make an impact. 

“Students of any major should 100% join the program. We truly make a difference in the lives of these children just by being there,” Anderson said. “It’s a great feeling to really see the difference you’re making.”