“Everything we do is geared toward what the students need and what we can do to make things easier for them."
ROSEBURG, Oregon – For at least eight years, and possibly even longer, the Associate Students of Umpqua Community College (ASUCC) have tasked themselves with giving during the holiday season. Their typical annual goal is to offer full Thanksgiving meals to 100 fellow students. This year, they outdid themselves by one.
“I think a fundamental part of what we try to do all the time is serve students,” Jesika Barnes, ASUCC’s President, said. “Everything we do is geared toward what the students need and what we can do to make things easier for them."
Barnes goes on to explain that the holidays are a really difficult time for a lot of people. There’s often the expectation of having a big meal and some don’t have the means to do it.
“Being able to provide these baskets for student who need them is just a way to help alleviate some of the stress and tension for the holidays,” Barnes said.
The majority of the items donated were either through a food drive ASUCC held at Sherm’s Thunderbird Market or from employees and student within UCC. Monetary donations were also accepted and were used to cover anything that wasn’t already donated.
This year marked a different experience for me in regards to covering this story. I had the opportunity to spend a bit of time with ASUCC, other student volunteers, and the students who came in to pick up their meals. This presented a perspective on the project that enlightened me on the thoughtfulness behind it. This was also an opportunity to meet those who receive their Thanksgiving meals from this program and what it means to them.
The first thing that struck me is just how many different walks of life students come from. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise given the non-traditional aspects of community college, but it was amazing to see so many different people walk into Hawk’s Landing Bistro. Some students were picking up between classes, some were online students and GED students from whom this was the first time being on the UCC main campus, families large and small; a little bit of everyone including many who most wouldn’t expect to participate.
A sense of relief seemed to be the primary theme of the day. As each person walked—if they didn’t directly comment on how much easier this meal made things for them—a look of relief could be seen on their face as they watched Catherine Blocher, ASUCC’s Activities Officer, or Vyla Grindberg, ASUCC’s Business Manager, put the finishing touches of adding turkey and pie from the coolers.
Something that specifically stuck with me that afternoon—as I helped a mother of three take her box of food to her car—was seeing tears lightly stream from her eyes as she commented, “It’s incredible that you do this. I can’t tell you how much this helps.”
“We have a lot of student who are primary caregivers and parts of big families; and when you’re impacting a student you’re not just impact them; you’re impacting a larger group of people,” Barnes said.
That was just one of many examples of joy, excitement, relief, and gratitude seen from students throughout that afternoon.
“We want thank all of the campus administrators who contributed and had their own competition on who could donate the most, the Enrollment Office contributed a lot to allow us to make as many boxes available as possible, the UCC Foundation made monetary donations available to purchase anything we didn’t already have donated from the community, and everyone who donated and helped make sure this could be as successful as it was,” Barnes said.
This is just one of the many examples of the kind of support ASUCC provides students year-round. From stockings in December to finals week activities, year-end events and regular consistent support to address the needs of UCC’s students; ASUCC continues to play a large role in creating a positive environment for all UCC students.
Story by Chase Gilley
UCC’s Digital Marketing Specialist
About Umpqua Community College
Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.
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Director, Student Engagement