Surry Community College recently opened a Care Closet on campus in Dobson to assist students, staff and faculty members in need.
The Surry Community College Women’s Association previously ran Surry’s Closet to Success which provided students in need with business attire for job interviews, internships and similar scenarios. After a survey of approximately 275 students revealed that food insecurity and a lack of financial means to provide basic provisions for themselves and their small children posed the greatest source of stress on students trying to balance schoolwork with personal needs, the association opted to revamp their efforts which led to the newly launched Care Closet.
“The closet will still house clothes for students, but these clothes are not limited to workplace attire, and we will also stock basic toiletries or hygiene products for both men and women and diapers for babies,” Surry English instructor and women’s association member Kennette Thomas said.
“Since students stated in the survey that they often struggled to purchase basic necessities for themselves and their families, we felt like we should try to meet these direct needs and help provide a little support in rough patches that any of us might go through,” Thomas continued.
The Care Closet is a collaborative effort with the association teaming up with other community organizations including The Legacy Center of Mount Airy, Central United Methodist Church of Mount Airy, and the Yadkin Valley District of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Thomas is also a provisional minister of the Deacon Order of the United Methodist Church. Through an initiative to foster working relationships among local churches and community organizations, Thomas was able to secure $3,000 in grant funds from the Yadkin Valley District of the UMC earmarked to go toward sustaining Surry’s Care Closet, as well as launching a Little Free Pantry on Surry’s campus to remedy students’ problems surrounding food insecurity.
The Little Free Pantry will house non-perishable food items that students, faculty and staff in need may access, and will also be run by the women’s association.
Thomas explained that providing students with basic necessities can often have a great impact.
“If students are faced with tough choices like gas money to get to school or diapers, of course they will have to choose diapers. And if they don’t have to worry about these extra burdens, they are more free to attend classes or to focus on their studies, which, of course, makes it more likely they will put themselves on a path to better jobs and more stability and security for themselves and their families,” Thomas said.
The women’s association is hosting an open house for the Care Closet on Thursday, Nov. 30 from 2 to 3 p.m. in Room C-205 on Surry’s campus at 630 S. Main St., Dobson. The women’s association hopes to have the Little Free Pantry up and running by the beginning of the spring 2018 semester.
Items in both the Care Closet and Little Free Pantry are free and available to Surry Community College students, staff and faculty members. Any monetary donations given in exchange for goods will go towards the Surry Community College Student Emergency Fund.
Anyone in need of accessing the Care Closet may contact Matt Blevins at [email protected], Kennette Thomas at [email protected], Anne Marie Woodruff at [email protected] or Sarah Wright at [email protected]