By Zenaida Kotala
In between slurping coffee to stay awake, meeting with study groups and pulling all nighters to get ready for final exams, University of Central Florida students took time out to help one another and break a food-drive record.
In less than 48 hours students dropped off 1,050 pounds of food at the Student Union to be donated to the on-campus Knights Helping Knights Pantry. The drive began Dec. 1 and ends today. So far, more than 1,300 pounds have been collected. Last year’s record was 1,000 pounds.
Students organized the food drive to help keep the food pantry stocked during the holiday break. The pantry began as a class project in a first-year LEAD Scholars course in 2009. The organizers never wanted students to have to choose between a meal and a textbook, so they worked hard to get the pantry started.
The pantry’s first home was a closet space in the Student Union. Today it fills an entire suite in Ferrell Commons attached to the All Knight Study facility there. The Student Union, Student Government Association and generous community donors support the pantry.
Students have access to the pantry Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can select up to five food items per day. For the past few years the Student Union has organized Study Union. During that time the union and other locations remain open 24/7 so students can get ready for finals. Union coordinators plan events and programming to reward diligent students and to promote happiness and healthy study habits. The food drive was added to help keep the shelves at the pantry stocked.
This year, students received a free Study Union T-shirt in exchange for their donation. More than 210 shirts were given away in 24 hours, and when coordinators ran out of shirts, they resorted to giving away union water bottles.
The Knights Pantry accepts donations year-round.