“It was January, the busiest time of the year, but if they had bought the peanut butter, they wouldn’t have had the resources to pay the rent and utilities for that month,” Hannah Gibbs ’19 said as she described her CentreTerm service experience at New Hope Food Pantry in early 2017.
“To me, the fact that the pantry was low on food in weather like that is a clear issue with food security. The pantry was in need of serious help—help that I hoped we could offer.”
Serving as the president of STAND, the Student Service Initiative at Centre College, Gibbs has organized a Centre Service Day at on Saturday, Sept. 23.
The idea for the event came about as a result of Gibbs’ own experiences at the pantry, combined with conversations with Community Service Coordinator Liz Brandt and New Hope Food Pantry Director Victoria Timberlake about planning a service day.
“I think what made me want to coordinate this was my own experience at the pantry itself and the other instances of food insecurity I have seen in my life,” Gibbs explained. “My mother was an educator for more than thirty years and while we were incredibly fortunate to always have access to food and shelter and soap and what we consider basic necessities, she knew that there were children who went home without those things. There are so many hungry people in America, in Kentucky, in Danville.”
The event was designed to address the needs of a community center that is limited by its non-profit status and what it can fund, and designed to make the food pantry a welcoming, accessible, safe and sustainable entity to make food security a reality for Danville–Boyle County families.
The goal with the volunteers is to work on the building itself. The monetary donations the organization receives goes directly toward the rent and utilities of the building or to purchasing food for clients. Due to this, the pantry does not have the funds to repair the building.
On Centre Service Day, volunteers will be painting the interior and exterior of the building, repairing windows and window seals, working on the handicap ramps, reinstalling a bathroom light fixture, cleaning and repairing the appliances, cleaning the interior of the building and the parking lot, and installing a new corkboard for the pantry to use.
“Our goal, at the end of the day, is for the building to be a safe, accessible and welcoming place for those who patronize the pantry,” Gibbs said. “The second goal is to raise awareness about the pantry’s existence and to recruit students, faculty and staff volunteers as a more regular volunteer force for the pantry.”
Gibbs said she believes the event show how Centre is willing to support the community initiatives that need their support. It shows that the College is willing to use their resources to support people and organizations beyond campus. The service day is an opportunity for Centre to show how its faculty, staff and students are involved in the same mission.
“For me, this workday and directly addressing an injustice that can seem almost untouchable was a very clear choice,” she said. “I think that for STAND and Bonner as organizations, it directly addresses the problems we are trying to combat and proves that through concentrated action by students, adults, children, elderly and whomever chooses to be involved, we can make a very big and very real difference.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
September 19, 2017