The Citadel’s Office of the Commandant is setting an example of servant leadership with their annual civic engagement project. Capt. Geno Paluso, USN (Ret.), initiated the group projects when he became commandant of cadets in 2014. Now, every summer his department gathers to model the philosophy that before you can lead, you first have to know how to serve others.
This year, more than 25 members of the department spent their morning volunteering at the Lowcountry Food Bank. On Wednesday, July 18, the group assembled in the food bank’s warehouse and inspected donations, sorted canned goods and packaged food for distribution around the community.
“This is our fourth annual project completed as a department,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Dougherty, assistant commandant for leadership programs at The Citadel. “We enjoy coming together as a team to give back to the community and enact the servant-leadership model taught at the college.”
In recent years, the Commandant’s Department has combined its staff summer training day with a civic engagement project at organizations such as One80 Place and Windwood Farm Home for Children. In 2017, the department joined local businesses and neighbors to transform community member Sarah Lyles Long’s backyard into a wheelchair-accessible hangout.
Through the creation and completion of a six-year strategic plan titled LEAD 2018, the Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics was established and service learning was incorporated into all four years of the cadet experience. Last academic year, the South Carolina Corps of Cadets provided almost 20,000 hours of volunteer service to the community.
Members of The Citadel community volunteer on a regular basis with more than 30 local partners such as the City of Charleston Recreation Department, Charleston County School District and Habitat for Humanity. Additionally, cadets and students participate collectively in service learning and civic engagement during The Citadel’s annual Leadership Day, which will occur on October 17 this fall.
“Civic engagement projects not only help our students, faculty and staff stay involved in the community, but they also help us achieve The Citadel mission to develop principled leaders,” said Dougherty. “Through these projects, cadets and students are able to learn the value of community service first-hand.”
The Lowcountry Food Bank is a warehouse that distributes donated food products to the 10 coastal counties of South Carolina.
As a member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, the food bank aims to provide more than 26 million pounds of food each year to its network agencies across the counties. These agencies include community soup kitchens, homeless shelters and emergency food pantries.
Additionally, the organization provides nutritional education courses and offers programs for families, children, seniors and veterans to ensure food-insecure individuals receive meals.
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