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Canton Rotary Club Assisting Vulnerable Spoon River College Students

Spoon River College / Twitter
The Rotary Club of Canton is collecting goods in a “food and-resources” drive for at-risk Spoon River College students.";s:

A donation effort sponsored by the Rotary Club of Canton aims to help at-risk community college students meet their needs.

Earlier this week, the Rotary Club started collecting goods in a “food and-resources” drive to restock shelves at the Spoon River College Learning Resource Center’s pantry.

Mitch Williams, one of the club’s board directors, noted many students often struggle to make ends meet while also keeping up with their schoolwork, with COVID-19 compounding the difficulty.

“According to a survey that they did back before the COVID pandemic even hit, as many as 49% of the student body had reported some degree of food insecurity,” said Williams. “So we thought it would be a good project for us to put together and do a ‘food and resources’ drive.”

SRC student success coach Andrea White said an internal food drive before the holidays generated strong turnout among college employees, but struggling students continue to require assistance.

“We have found the need to be so great,” said White. “We were just thrilled when Rotary contacted us to do this drive, because we already find ourselves with those supplies dwindling quickly from what we raised just prior to Christmas.”

The college’s learning resource center offers various types of free student support in addition to the free pantry, from counseling services to wide-ranging academic assistance.

“We really try to take kind of a holistic approach to support students,” said White. “Our center here provides a number of services for students, all the way from library services to helping with research projects, how to cite a paper, testing, proctoring, study tables for athletes. We also provide student success support, so if students are having difficulty, whether it be academic or things outside of the classroom affecting them, we try to help with those.”

In addition to non-perishable goods, the two-week drive is collecting personal hygiene items and basic school supplies through the end of the month. Williams said the drive is the first of its kind for the Rotary Club.

“Even before we launched the drive itself, with our pre-launch social media information, we heard from the folks at the college that they’d gotten some feedback of people that actually wanted to do cash donations to the program,” said Williams. “So, at the very least, it’s getting some public awareness of their situation there and their needs.”

Williams added that people often don't think of students being included among at-risk groups.

“Community college students aren't always college-age students,” he said. “It also includes people that are married and have children and are working other part-time jobs and struggling to make ends meet.

“There's a whole cross-segment of the community that might be taking classes and trying to work with curriculum there, and so a lot of people are juggling a whole range of different issues that they have to deal with.”

The drive continues through the end of February, with Rotary Club members who have offices in Canton serving as drop-off locations. A list of needed items and other information can be found on the club’s website: http://cantonrotaryclub.org/srcdrive.

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.