Grand Rapids Community College’s student food pantry received a boost this week from a coalition of community groups as part of a day of service in commemoration of the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Theta Chi Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority invited community members to donate food to the GRCC pantry, partnering with the Black Impact Collaborative, Spectrum Health African Americans for Resources and Engagement, and Rent A Man moving company.
The result was a moving van full of food and other supplies. The donations were timely -- restocking the pantry after a month of increased need that followed a second wave of COVID-19 cases, which forced many employers to close or reduce hours.
Shannon Wilson, a sorority member who organized the event, said the project grew from a desire to provide an act of service, “in honor of the life and legacy of the man who has inspired us all.”
“The college is providing the education, and, as your community, we wanted to support your efforts by making sure that none of your students go without food, or necessities for survival,” she said.
Partners spread the word about the event, and collected food and materials during a drive-through event. Donations completely filled a moving truck.
“Simply put: The event was phenomenal,” Wilson said. “All those involved were thrilled with the outcome, and just so humbled to be a part of such a worthwhile cause! We know and understand, just like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did, the importance of education. He was once quoted as saying ‘I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education, and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.’”
Wilson said Rent A Man, a moving company, supplied the truck and two staffers. The Black Impact Collaborative provided volunteers and helped spread the word about the initiative. Spectrum Health’s African American Resource Group promoted the collection to 30,000 spectrum Health employees.
“I’m full of gratitude,” said Lina Blair, director of GRCC’s Office of Student Life. “What a wonderful way to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.! West Michigan is a caring community, and people have responded to the needs of our students. So many have struggled during the pandemic, and generous support such as this helps them continue their education and care for their families.”
GRCC students and their families have received more than 2,000 packages of groceries from the pantry since March, and nearly 500 meals in the fall semester alone. Donations also included hygiene products, cleaning supplies, baby supplies and pet food.
Organizations that have provided food or resources include Heart of West Michigan United Way, Kent County, Michigan government, GRCC Student Alliance, GRCC Campus Dining, the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, Feeding America West Michigan, Plainsong Farm, the Grand Rapids Children's Museum, I Support the Girls, and others.
Student Life has created an Amazon Wish List for additional donations, and people can help by clicking here: https://a.co/bDQROSa.
Financial support can be provided through the Grand Rapids Community College Foundation’s online donation page: grcc.edu/donate. Select "Student Food Pantry" or "Student Emergency Fund" from the drop-down menu under "Designation.”
Grand Rapids Community College offers learners of all ages opportunities to gain credits for degrees or transfer and in-demand career skills leading to rewarding careers. GRCC was established in 1914 – Michigan’s first community college – and offers affordable classes on weekdays, evenings, Saturdays and online at locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.