WESTFIELD – Students from Helping Hands at the White Oak School delivered boxes of food that they collected to the Common Goods pantry at Westfield State University on Monday, replenishing needed supplies on the shelves.
The Common Goods pantry, which is located in the Second Congregational Church on Western Avenue, is a new pantry that was started last year to help WSU students, staff, faculty and anyone facing food insecurity at the campus, according to Celeste Donovan, director of TRIO student support services at WSU.
“We just started this. Our big questions is, what does Westfield State need?” Donovan asked. She said the pantry is staffed by student volunteers, organized by graduate student Jacqueline Luna, and has hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“We ask students to take enough for the week and come back. We don’t want to have too many limitations,” Donovan said.
When the Helping Hands group decided to help the pantry project they opened up the food drive to the whole school, said co-advisor Dale Rogers, a teacher and career counselor at White Oak. She said they sponsored a dress down day to encourage contributions.
“The Helping Hands group focuses on causes that need help in the community,” said sophomore Preston Jordan of White Oak. He said besides donating food, the group also visits Alzheimers patients at Armbrook Village to cheer them up. They visit the Memory Unit, and create new memories with them. One of their recent projects at Armbrook was painting pumpkins.
After carrying the loaded boxes into the pantry, Lisa G. McMahon, the university’s director of advancement, presented the Helpings Hands group a certificate of appreciation for their donation.