Student Senate’s Civic Service committee ran a food drive and supported four community outreach events this month.
While food drives for the Bearcat Food Pantry have been organized before, the Civic Service Committee started a competition for on-campus organizations to earn points with donations this year. Alpha Sigma Alpha won the competition and will have its name engraved on the trophy, which will be displayed in the Student Senate chambers or the Office of Student Involvement. Donations were collected on the second floor of the J.W. Jones Student Union during lunchtime Nov. 27-30.
Civic Service Chair Arpana Pokhrel said they didn’t meet their donation goal, but she said the timing wasn’t ideal because of Thanksgiving break followed by a snow day, and they hope to have a better result in coming years.
“I think it’s a great start,” Pokhrel said. “The idea we initially came up with, I think we’re proud of. We are planning to continue it in the future, and I think it could happen better, but some help is better than no help.”
Civic Service Vice Chair Drake Summers said besides collecting donations, one of the goals of the food drive was to destigmatize the use of the Bearcat Food Pantry.
“Not many people are super comfortable talking about needs they have, finding resources, and it’s just unfair to the people that need it,” Summers said. “Also, it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, because it’s just easier to help people.”
Summers said the committee’s goal for the semester was to partner with campus and community organizations to improve existing philanthropy events rather than creating multiple new events. The committee used part of its $5,000 budget to support four groups.
Civic Service Committee partnered with the Maryville Children and Family Center to adopt four Maryville families and provide Christmas gifts for the nine children in those families.
“In some instances, it (adopting a family) provides the experience that people associate with the holiday season,” Summers said. “It may be kind of vain to say that getting a present for Christmas is an expectation, but when you’re one of the few kids in a group that don’t have those same experiences, that can kind of stink.”
The committee also partnered with Maryville Public Schools to provide hygiene items and school supplies at Maryville High School for students in need.
The committee paid for catering for Sigma Kappa’s trip Dec. 1 to the Noyes Home for Children in St. Joseph, Missouri. In previous years, Sigma Kappa partnered with Phi Sigma Kappa for this event, but Phi Sigma Kappa was suspended this year, so the Civic Service Committee stepped in to support the event.
“Sigma Kappa does this every year,” Pokhrel said. “All the members team up with friends to ‘adopt’ a kid or group of kids and buy them clothes and stuff, and then we as Civic Service paid for food.”
Ben’s Stocking of Hope is an annual event in Maryville held to provide stockings of toys and hygiene items to children in the Maryville area. This year, the Civic Service Committee donated one item for each stocking.
The tradition was started by Ben McIntyre’s family after he was killed in a drunk driving accident in 2011. Ben’s sister, Courtney Stewart, said the family created a stocking out of his clothes to honor his love of Christmas, and the tradition began.
“It turned out to be very therapeutic for our family and we decided that we wanted to be able to bring Christmas joy to others as well,” Stewart said. “So every year since 2012 my family and many wonderful volunteers make and stuff stockings for children and families in need as well as for seniors in nursing homes that need some Christmas cheer.”