Campus Closet gives GCCC students a boost

4/18/2013

By ANGIE HAFLICH

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Some college students, because of limited resources, are often forced to choose between eating and between other essentials.

"Sometimes I don't have a lot of money, so I come here so they can help me with basic things and it's been really helpful," freshman Lizette Ibarra said. "It's really helpful for students who don't have a lot of money."

Ibarra was referring to Garden City Community College's Campus Closet, which provides donated food, hygiene products, bedding, towels, clothes, coats and other items to students, free of charge.

Tracy Munoz, secretary of the academic building, where the Campus Closet is located, said it's gratifying to be able to help students.

"To see their look on their faces when they find out it's free — it just really makes their day and it makes my day to help them, as well," Munoz said.

On Wednesday, GCCC's Student Government Association presented the Campus Closet with a check for $600, which will allow for healthier, non-perishable food to be offered to students.

"They are going to expand it in the sense that now they're gong to start offering more nutritional food because before, they had Ramen Noodles and Cup O' Soup and stuff like that that's just filler, but it's not health," said SGA Adviser Micah Kasriel. "So this will help provide good, nutritious food that's non-perishable that students can take and keep."

The money, along with other donations, is also going to be used to organize items that are currently being stored in boxes or plastic bags.

"We're working on getting some shelving and kind of organize it better so we know where things are at, rather than having to kind of dig for it," Munoz said.

During the check presentation, members of Fort Hays State University's Global Leadership Conference, Kelly Nuckolls and Tre' Giles, were also in attendance.

Kasriel said Nuckolls, who helped launch a food pantry at FHSU in October 2012, also had been given the idea to partner with a community college in a food exchange, so GCCC was chosen. Nuckolls said it's the first partnership of its nature in Kansas.

"We're really excited about it to just work on any project we can, especially since a lot of GCCC students transfer to Hays," she said.

Nuckolls and Giles brought along with them, unneeded boxes of food, including green beans, peas, carrots and soup.

"We've had an overwhelming amount of food and we don't know what to do with all of it, so we brought some boxes down here today to put in your Campus Closet," Nuckolls said.

The Campus Closet, coordinated by the student Kansas National Education Association organization, was established seven years ago to provide students from low-income families with basic hygiene products.

"It was realized that students were choosing between deodorant and food, so that's why they started collecting hygiene products ... Now, if we can help keep them clean and help keep their bellies full, it's going to help us as a college, because we're going to have students that can focus better and make better grades," Kasriel said. "And students are going to stay here because they feel more secure, more supported."

Munoz said that, in the beginning, a couple of students per week would show up at the Campus Closet.

"Now we're probably up to almost 20 students a week," she said.

Many of the students who come in, Munoz said, often just need some kind of snack to help keep them focused.

Wendy Thief, KNEA president, said sometimes schedules make it difficult for students to eat properly.

"Several of our athletes have problems just because of the schedules they have, finding jobs in town, so I know that they struggle," she said. "They try to be in the cafeteria, but sometimes it's a struggle for them to be able to get there because they either have class or practice."

Munoz said being able to help provide students with more nutritional food will help tremendously.

For more information, email campuscloset@gcccks.edu, or call 276-9580.

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