The Campus Life department at Craven Community College (Craven CC) is accepting donations for a Thanksgiving Meal Food Drive through Friday, Nov. 20. All donations will be used to help Craven CC students and families in need during the holidays.
Campus Life consists of hardworking student volunteers who sponsor events and activities that enable all students to enjoy the college experience beyond the classroom and computer screen. Emphasis is placed on community service partnerships and cocurricular activities, as well as personal and professional development, diversity and global consciousness, and engaged citizenship and leadership.
The food donations will join items located in the Panther Pantry, an on-campus resource for current students, staff and faculty to address food insecurity and basic hygiene needs. The Panther Pantry provides nonperishable food items, hygiene products and cleaning supplies, which have become especially important commodities in the age of COVID. It is sustained through donations and grants and is operated by students. Approximately 50 students are served per semester, with families ranging in size from one to 10 dependents.
“At Craven CC, the staff and faculty are so invested in making sure that our students are successful in all aspects of life, especially education,” said Campus Life Coordinator Chelsea Robinson. “But at times, there are other outside factors that can hinder that success. It is very important that we address food insecurity and ensure that our students and their families are getting the necessary food so that it’s no longer a worry or a concern for them and they can focus on their education and work. We are very fortunate to be able to help students and their families stay healthy and safe.”
The Panther Pantry was originally established by Craven CC students in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Florence. In the year that followed, students and staff observed a continued need among the student population, most of which receives some form of financial aid. Thanks to a generous donation from International Paper and the vested interest of community members and other college employees and students, the Panther Pantry has been able to provide items for hundreds of students and employees in need of assistance.
“I think it’s really important for the community to get involved and show their support for the Panther Pantry because they’re helping their fellow community members,” said Robinson. “The Panther Pantry relies 100% on food, product and money donations, so without the help of the community, we would not be able to provide that support for our students and their families. A majority of Craven CC students are from the local area and are active members in the community, so they will be taking their education from Craven CC and using it to make Craven County an even better place for us to live.”
Robinson just took over the Campus Life Coordinator position in September. Although she hasn’t been there long, she immediately picked up on the passion and excitement that Craven CC students exhibit when helping other students and community members. She noted how impressed she is with the student ambassadors, who regularly stop by the Campus Life office on their breaks to help in the pantry, whether it’s taking inventory, filling orders, moving boxes or clearing out shelf space for donations.
“The Hurst Student Ambassadors take such great pride in the Panther Pantry and work really hard to make sure it’s always organized or that we’re providing a welcoming environment for those that come visit,” said Robinson. “Even though we’ve had to change a few of our procedures due to COVID, the ambassadors quickly adjusted and we’ve been able to help so many families during this challenging time. The students that volunteer their time do so because they want to make a difference, and that inspires me every day.”
Campus Life students and volunteers will use donations to prepare Thanksgiving meal bags to give away to Craven CC families and individuals in need on Nov. 23-24. Leftover items will help restock the Panther Pantry, which is open throughout the year.
Since the pandemic has led to many people losing jobs and relying on the goodwill of others to survive, it is more important than ever to support students and their dependents. Preferred Thanksgiving items include Stove Top stuffing, instant mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, canned vegetables, canned pumpkin, spice cake mix and gravy. Donations are welcome and appreciated anytime during the year. Only unopened, nonexpired and nonperishable items are accepted.
The recently remodeled Panther Pantry is located in Ward Hall on the New Bern campus, across from the café. Donation drop-off locations on the New Bern campus include the Campus Life Office in Ward Hall and First Stop in Barker Hall. For more information, contact Robinson at 252-514-0562 or email@example.com.
This article was originally published in the New Bern Sun Journal on November 18, 2020.