Eating a deliciously excessive large meal with friends and family is a Thanksgiving imperative for most. Unfortunately, with the economic challenges many students face, having the funds for the plethora of Thanksgiving staples, such as a family-sized turkey with fixings, or buttery mashed potatoes and sparkling cider can be just wishful thinking. For these reasons, UCC’s student leadership ASUCC and volunteers are conducting a Thanksgiving food drive for UCC students in need of food donations during the holiday season.
Although the student body regularly works to help students in need, Amanda Cerda, ASUCC president and ASUCC Thanksgiving basket project coordinator, feels it’s especially important to help during Thanksgiving.
“I think we all need to remember where we come from and be grateful for the people that we have in our lives. I think surrounding ourselves around a table full of comfort food is a great way to get close to one another,” Cerda says. “For some students that wouldn’t be able to provide for their family, this provides a way to gather their families, and create that atmosphere of connection.”
The ASUCC has done food baskets in the past, but last year due to the pandemic, pre-paid meals from Sheri’s Diner were given to students in need instead. For Cerda and the current leadership team, helping with baskets now that school has returned in-person was an easy decision.
“Our goal is to fill 75 Thanksgiving meal boxes for students that could use a meal this year,” Cerda says.
On Oct. 30, Cerda, ASUCC Academic Advisor Marjan Coester, some nursing students and academic scholar volunteers could be seen with smiles and looks of determination on their faces as they wiped down shopping carts and passed out papers containing lists to customers at Sherm’s Thunderbird Market. On those condensed lists were dry goods such as canned foods, bags of potatoes, onion straws, and other storable food items that might be appropriate for the Thanksgiving food baskets.
From 10 to 3 p.m. the volunteers passed out lists and collected the food purchased, ending the day with four full carts of dried food and almost $300 in cash donations.
Sherm’s Thunderbird Market is not the only local business helping with the food basket donations. Umpqua Dairy also agreed to donate to the food baskets with ten pounds of butter.
“With the food baskets, certain items that we need are not often picked to be donated, those are the perishable items such as turkey, whipped cream, butter, pies, onion straws or sparkling cider. For whatever reason those aren’t the popular items that people pick to provide from the list,” Coester says. “The fact that we were able to get a donation of the butter from Umpqua Dairy was really nice of them to do.”
The current challenge for ASUCC is to find a large enough space for refrigeration, “We are working with the school cafeteria, which should work, but it just hasn’t been turned on in a while due to the pandemic,” Cerda says.
Food and cash donations are still being accepted and can be delivered to ASUCC at the Student Service Center. Coester says, “We still have a ways to go, but anything that’s donated is super helpful.”
The first food drive was a success, with strong support and appreciation from the Roseburg community. Cerda says, “The crowd was great; as we would thank them for their generosity they would thank us for what we were doing.”
Another food drive at Sherm’s is scheduled for Nov. 20; the student body hopes to collect the more perishable items like turkeys and dairy items.
“Coming out of the pandemic, there’s a lot of people out of work, there is a lot of people that won’t be able to do this,” Cerda says. “I think making these kinds of things more accessible is how we are going to move society and provide assistance.”
Current UCC students in need of a Thanksgiving basket donation are encouraged to apply using an application.
On the application, a section asks students to mark if they do not have access to a kitchen or a place to prepare the meal. “We do have some backup options, but it needs to be communicated,” Cerda says.
Due to the limited baskets, students should fill out the application as soon as possible for a higher chance of receiving one.
Thanksgiving baskets are primarily for student donations; therefore, donees will need to pick them up at UCC.
For those who would like to volunteer, reach out to Coester at Marjan.email@example.com or Cerda at ASUCCpresident@umpqua.edu
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