Wallace Community College’s faculty is helping students with food insecurity by providing them with grocery store and restaurant gift cards.
Wallace recently surveyed its student body in an effort to assist students during the transition to online learning, according to a news release from the college. The survey asked students about technology needs, internet access, and their health and well-being. Specifically, the survey asked if they had a food need, to which 30% responded “yes.”
In response, administration offered the opportunity to WCC employees to help meet that particular need by donating gift cards to local grocery stores and restaurants for student use.
In less than a week, the college already received $1,000 in gift card donations.
“The outpouring of love and support to our students by our faculty and staff has been nothing short of amazing,” said Ashli Wilkins, dean of institutional services and community development. “What is even more incredible is that our faculty and staff are working remotely, so they have to drop the donations off on one of our campuses or mail them. You will not find a more caring or more student-focused group of educators anywhere.”
Gift cards are making their way to students with identified food needs. Dr. Ryan Spry, director of student and campus life, is heading the collection and distribution process.
“We will provide gift cards to as many students as we can during this challenging time. The response has been overwhelming, so we will be able to help a great number of our students,” he said.
College employees are continuing to donate as news of the impact is shared and realized. English instructor Tara Estes was one of the first to donate, and she told her parents about the effort. They also donated.
“Wallace is a family, and families help each other,” Estes said.
Wallace also has helped the community in other ways. Last week, it donated surplus personal protective equipment to four local health-care facilities and is working to meet the potential need for hospital beds and mattresses for another facility.
It also is helping students in other ways. Last week, internet hotspots were set up in parking lots at its Dothan and Eufala campuses for students to drive up and complete classwork from the safety of their vehicles.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted lives across the globe, and the Wiregrass is no exception. The crisis is rippling throughout the region, and Wallace has been focused on meeting this crisis head-on,” the news release reads.
“Our students are our highest priority, and we want to meet their academic needs and help them achieve their goals,” said Dr. Linda Young, WCC’s president. “In this unprecedented time, those goals may be more difficult to reach, and those needs may go beyond academic assistance. Our faculty and staff recognize that, and they have answered the call — as they always do.”