TIFTON — For the last two years, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) has maintained a food pantry and clothing closet for students who financially need help.
The Residence Housing Association teams up with Embark Georgia to make sure students that come from foster care services or have experienced homelessness have the necessary items in life to function successfully.
Embark Georgia works with different agencies and organizations to improve the educational options for people who have experienced foster care or homelessness. Embark Georgia has designated points of contact on college campuses to identify students who fall into this category.
The ABAC point of contact for Embark Georgia is Maggie Martin. She relies on teachers and professors at ABAC to help her identify students who could use extra assistance. According to Martin, it can be difficult for students to come forward about needing help after being homeless.
“Most people have no idea that a college would have students who are homeless,” said Martin. “So between semesters we can use resources to provide housing for students over college breaks because for some students, this is home. “
The clothing closet provides students with professional clothing that can be used for job interviews, class presentations, conferences or whatever else the students need it for.
For the most part ABAC faculty have been responsible for donating clothes that have filled the closet. Right now the closet lacks men’s clothing such as belts, pants and shirts of different sizes.
Residence Life Coordinator Sarah Herring is the person on campus for students to go through to access the closet and food pantry. According to her, the closet and pantry has come a long way since it started.
“I am considering finding a separate space to house the closet from the pantry because of the amount of donations that keep coming in,” said Herring.
When students can’t find clothing that fits for their professional needs, Herring uses money donations to take the student to purchase used clothing. One of the challenges the closet space has faced is finding a variety of sizes that fit all body shapes.
Food and clothing donations come from faculty, staff and students at ABAC. When students move out of their dorms each semester, some of them donate their leftover food items to the pantry.
“I have never had to purchase food for the pantry,” said Herring. “We have run the pantry completely off donations. These students never cease to amaze me with their selflessness.”
The closet and pantry is located at the heart of campus inside the residence hall, ABAC Place. The closet/pantry remains discrete so that students feel comfortable when accessing it.
According to Herring, the pantry could use a freezer so students have more options than just dry food options. Herring hopes someone from the local community around ABAC donates a freezer to the good cause.
The clothing closet and food pantry accepts donations all year. Collected items can include: toiletries, cooking utensils, paper goods, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, professional clothing of all sizes and financial donations.
Herring is the faculty member that students can go through to access the pantry and closet. For more information about how to donate, contact Sarah Herring by calling 229-391-5231 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.