Giving back – such is the theme and message that Staff Council at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) wants to convey as part of its “Pack the Pantry” initiative. The Council is partnering with food pantry locations in Hattiesburg and the Gulf Coast on the project that runs through Nov. 15.
Christy Bowman, Senior Manager of Student Involvement, explains that the initiative aligns with the Staff Council’s desire to encourage University staff members to assist students at every opportunity.
“We have many members of the Council who are active in and involved with the pantries on both the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses. We saw this would be a great thing to do before the holiday season,” said Bowman, who is a co-chair of fundraising for Staff Council. “Many of our students have proven to have a need for this type of assistance, and we wouldn’t be here without the students, so the Council wanted to give back as much as it can.”
Chief among the items needed are: toilet paper, feminine products, laundry detergent (powder preferred), dry cat food and dry dog food. Bowman notes that donations can be made by ordering directly from the pantries’ Amazon wish lists, by sending a check to the pantries, or dropping off items in person.
Drop-off sites and hours include:
- Hattiesburg campus | Monday, Wednesday and Friday | 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Eagles Nest (If assistance is unavailable at this location, please drop your donation to Dean of Students office, located in the Union, 2nd floor.)
- Gulf Park campus | Monday, Wednesday and Friday | 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hardy Hall, Room 242
- Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) | Monday through Friday | 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Gunter Library
For items donated, each staff and faculty member’s name will be put into a drawing for a chance to win a Thanksgiving basket that includes a ham or turkey, dressing, two sides, gravy and rolls.
Other key contributors to the project include Staff Council President Mary Alexander, Staff Council President-Elect Jessica Langston, Becky Hardgrove, and the entire fundraising committee, along with Sirena Cantrell Dean of Students on the Hattiesburg campus, who oversees the Eagle’s Nest pantry.