GICCA students volunteer at MAP International

The sorting room in MAP International’s Brunswick center was alive with activity this week, as volunteers packed bags and boxes for people in need around the world.

The bags included medical supplies and hygiene products that will be sent to victims of the recent devastating earthquakes in Syria and Turkey, as well as those impacted by the war in Ukraine.

Thousands of bags can be packed in a single day at MAP International, thanks to volunteer support. And this week, the volunteer group included nearly 80 culinary arts students from the Golden Isles College and Career Academy.

The service opportunity aligned with their goals for the career technical student organization, an intracurricular club that all students at GICCA are able to join.

Culinary arts pathway instructors Laura Bersticker and Haley Meredith brought two groups of students over to the MAP office on Monday. The afternoon group helped pack close to 4,000 bags.

“It’s awesome,” said Meredith, at the onset of the two-hour afternoon session. “They did a great job of organizing the kids and getting them to work … The kids this morning had a great time with it because it’s fast paced.”

Bersticker said she and Meredith hoped the students could use this experience to gain a greater appreciation of what’s happening in the world.

“It’s good for them to look outside of themselves sometimes, and the way we related it to them is that, when we’ve had some major hurricanes here, the National Guard came, the Red Cross came, to help us in our time of need,” she said. “This is the way that we could help other areas in other countries in their time of need.”

The war in Ukraine recently surpassed its one-year anniversary. And the death toll in Turkey and Syria due to the recent earthquakes has risen beyond 50,000.

Thousands of miles away, in Glynn County, these events can be feel like no more than headlines in the news. By having their students support an effort to send aid to those affected, the GICCA instructors hoped they’d see more clearly how anyone can make a difference, even from far away.

“Sometimes we get bogged down in our dayto-day, and it’s good to step outside yourself,” Bersticker said.

The students will host a fundraiser for the culinary arts program soon by offering another Take & Bake opportunity, through which they prepare and sell meals for community members to purchase and pick up. Visit for details.