RIT hospitality students deliver 1,000 cookies to local first responders

Students hand-delivered the treats to Strong Memorial Hospital and Unity Hospital

A. Sue Weisler

Students in Saunders’ hospitality program baked 1,000 cookies in Henry’s Kitchen and delivered them to first responders at Unity and Strong Memorial Hospitals.

When students in RIT’s hospitality and tourism management clubs realized COVID-19 restrictions would prevent them from executing their annual Valentine’s Day fundraiser dinner, they decided to redirect their efforts to give back to the community instead.

Students within RIT’s three hospitality clubs, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals, American Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Eta Sigma Delta honor society, baked and delivered cookies to first responders at Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital and Unity Hospital this week.

“We had a meeting with our advisors and realized we had an amazing opportunity to use our resources and time to give back to first responders,” said Ndidi Chimah, a second-year hospitality and tourism management and international business student from Baltimore, and president of RIT’s Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals student chapter. “We also thought baking and packaging cookies would be a great way to bring our members together safely, which we haven’t been able to do much of this year.”

To accomplish this, students volunteered their time off during one of three Recharge Days offered by RIT this semester. On Tuesday, Feb. 23, they gathered in Henry’s Kitchen to bake.

“Even with busy schedules, the students decided to make good use of the Recharge Day to gather, in compliance with pandemic protocols, to complete this mission,” said Jerrie Hsieh, faculty advisor and associate professor in the Department of International Hospitality and Service Innovation. “Thirteen students volunteered to help. They began at 9 a.m. and finished at 3 p.m. They were exhausted, but I could see the pride on their faces after they made 1,000 cookies for their heroes. I know they all feel great knowing their handmade cookies may cheer up the hospital workers.”

The students hope this initiative will encourage others to give back to their communities, not only during pandemic times, but every day, said Chimah.

“We realized it took a pandemic for us to really appreciate our first responders like we should. Our hope is that as a community we all take it upon ourselves to continue giving back and giving appreciation where it’s due. First responders, teachers, professors, grocery store clerks, and so many others are keeping the world running. They really do deserve all our appreciation.”

The International Hospitality and Service Innovation department at RIT’s Saunders College of Business offers programs at the intersection of technology, people, and service, preparing students for opportunities in fields like hotel management, travel and tourism, food and beverage, and event planning.

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