Triton Pantry and Triton Emergency Fund providing help during the holidays

by | Nov 25, 2020

The holiday season, combined with the coronavirus pandemic, make now a key time to support UMSL students who are facing food insecurity.
Alumni and Edward Jones employees boxed food donations for the Triton Pantry

University of Missouri–St. Louis alumni and Edward Jones employees boxed food donations for the Triton Pantry in February at Woods Hall. The UMSL Alumni Association coordinated the event. (Photo by August Jennewein)

The holiday season is a time for giving, and it’s particularly important this year when so many people have been affected by financial difficulties and food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

University of Missouri–St. Louis staff members have worked to help students who are struggling to make ends meet with the Triton Pantry and the Triton Emergency Fund. Robin Kimberlin, director of Student Social Services, noted that the Triton Pantry ran a special donation drive to put together Tritons Care! boxes. The campaign started on Oct. 30 and runs through Friday.

The boxes are meant to aid UMSL students facing food insecurity with additional assistance over the winter break. The boxes include a few winter and holiday themed items and food and personal care staples including canned fruit or applesauce; canned soup; one spaghetti meal kit; one chili kit; one “holiday meal” kit; a $20 gift card to purchase a protein or other non-shelf stable item for meals; hot cocoa mix and marshmallows; “winter themed” cookies or crackers; oatmeal; laundry detergent; and shampoo, body wash or other personal care item.

The goal was to build 75 boxes, and so far, Kimberlin said 70 students have requested one. She added that the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee was very helpful in securing necessary donations.

“The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee bought a ton of stuff and delivered it Friday,” she said. “I just added a couple more things we needed.”

Overall, the SAAC was able to raise $320 for supplies thanks to donations from Triton student athletes. Michael Brothers, president of the SAAC and member of the men’s golf team, said the goal was to raise $1 per student athlete, or $238 in total.

“SAAC has always had an interest in getting involved in the community and doing anything we can to better it,” Brothers said. “As athletes, we recognize the importance of having a healthy lifestyle, much of which is centered around nutrition. There are also several student-athletes who have benefited from the food pantry and can personally attest to its importance. Because of all of this, this food drive has been a great way for athletes to come together and support a cause that has an immediate impact on the UMSL community.”

He added that it felt great to make such a tangible difference for fellow UMSL students.

“As president, I am extremely proud of how each team came together and did their part toward reaching and exceeding our goal,” he said. “Being in the middle of a pandemic, there are many people who are struggling, and because everything is shut down, we have not been able to give back in ways that we have in the past. We have an amazing group of student-athletes who want to positively impact our community, and I think this demonstrates all of that.”

Members of the UMSL community who want to donate to the effort can do so through Sign-Up Genius – an online tool that allows people to claim needed items and note how many they plan to buy. Those donating can drop off their items at the Triton Pantry or arrange for staff members to meet them at their cars in the Millennium Student Center parking lot.

For those who prefer a monetary donation, the Triton Pantry is requesting grocery store gift cards in $20 increments. The gift cards can be mailed to: UMSL, 1 University Blvd. 144 Millennium Student Center, St. Louis, MO 63121.

People can also contribute a one-time or recurring gift to the Triton Pantry on the UMSL Giving website.

The Triton Emergency Fund helps students in need by providing financial assistance during emergency situations that can prevent them from earning a degree. The program is designed to provide a one-time source of funding after other options have been exhausted.

Maura Connors, Director of Annual Giving, said the Triton Emergency Fund has raised more than $100,000 since March when UMSL Advancement started focusing its fundraising efforts on the fund. This month, the fund has received more than $23,000 in donations.

Payments go directly to vendors such as landlords and utility companies, and members of the Student Social Services team also connect students with additional community resources and programs, as well as financial aid opportunities.

Connors also noted this year’s annual year-end campaign – Giving Tuesday – is focused on donations for the Triton Pantry and Triton Emergency Fund. Giving Tuesday is a global day of charity and is held on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The digital campaign started on Nov. 9 and has raised more than $22,000 for the two relief efforts to date.

Overall, she said the UMSL community has been generous and eager to help during a uniquely difficult time.

“Donors want to help,” she said. “They want to be part of the solution. Their kindness and generosity is abundant even, if not especially, during this difficult time. They are the heroes of the story.”

People can make donations to the Triton Emergency Fund on the UMSL Giving website.

Burk Krohe

Burk Krohe