PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Non-profit organizations rely heavily on volunteers and many could not operate without them.

Today, a group of students from halfway around the world spent part of their day at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

“This is such a wonderful town. Can we send our students to experience American culture in Pittsburgh?” Gaoying Bolinger said.

Bollinger, a social worker who now lives and works in Allegheny County quickly said yes. The native of China came to the United States in 1986. She played a big role getting a group of 26 Chinese students to volunteer at the food bank today.

“All my friends are still in China. The professors and the family because of the Internet and Facebook and everything, they found me — and they came to visit Pittsburgh,” Bolinger said.

The food bank buys in bulk and must repackage gigantic 4 foot by 4 foot boxes of cereal.

“There is a lot of excitement here today because we have visitors from China here, students who are repacking food for us. They come from a wealthy area in China so this is a great opportunity to educate them about the needs in the United States,” Lisa Scales with the food bank said.

The containers of cereal weigh 300 pounds each. Their job today was to take them, put them in smaller bags, box them up, and then they go out for distribution.

“Maybe in China they don’t have the same experience like this and it is quite meaningful for them and maybe when they go back to China, it could be a good example to the young people in China,” Wang Ying said.

“We are really excited about it. We are really excited to be here and volunteer. We can know more about American life and it will be a good memory here,” Zhou LiYing said.

While there will be side trips to Kennywood, Niagara Falls, New York City and Chicago, Bolinger hopes the lessons learned here in Duquesne will go back to her native China.

“They actually want to bring this idea back to China because 20 percent are in possession of the wealth. Eighty percent are very poor in China,” Bolinger said.


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