By Shanae Hardy
Central Florida Future
Blanketing the city with compassion and comfort, the White Linen Project at UCF is leaving its mark around Central Florida in the form of sheets.
Students at UCF formed the White Linen Project, a volunteer initiative that provides linen to homeless families, to leave an imprint on their community.
Shakera Quince, a junior management major, was influenced to begin the nonprofit organization when she began volunteering for the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, one of the largest homeless shelters in Central Florida. After volunteering twice a week and witnessing several families that slept in the cold, Quince said she felt a deep connection with the children and families she served. She decided to challenge herself on what she could do to further provide resources to the families at the mission.
“I was able to find out that one of the major needs was linen, specifically white linen at the time,” she explains. “So, I stayed up late at night for a couple of weeks trying to figure out what can I do. Lo and behold, the White Linen Project was born.”
Quince paired with four other students who shared her passion for wanting to change some of the circumstances of the homeless, including her former roommate, Katrina Poggio, a senior journalism major.
Poggio said she is currently working on a photo project for the White Linen Project’s website to bring awareness to the homeless community.
“I got involved because Shakera and I have a mutual interest in making a difference,” she says. “My favorite part about the volunteer initiative is that I have an opportunity to give a voice to those who go unheard.”
After developing the program for almost a year, Quince and her team introduced the White Linen Project on campus in April. By partnering with several community-wide volunteer initiatives, such as Volunteer UCF, Straight Street Orlando and the Mustard Seed of Central Florida, the White Linen Project has beckoned attention for the immense demand for linen donations.
In order to provide students with opportunities to donate, members of the White Linen Project tabled outside the Student Union every Monday in April, allowing students to either drop off linen directly to them or at other designated areas around campus.
For the summer, Quince and the rest of the team have obtained two options for students to continue to donate to the White Linen Project: the UCF cubicle located on the second floor of the Student Union and the Knights Pantry.
After their first month on campus, Quince, Poggio and their team collected more than 150 pieces of linen.
Poggio and Quince are looking to expand the team with more volunteers so the organization can eventually grow into a registered student organization.
“We have so many ideas as we grow, and one of them is maybe even handing linens out downtown to people who sleep on the ground outside. Coming with a box of pizza and some linen and just saying, ‘Hey, have a nice night,'” Quince said.
In the future, Quince is hopeful that her initiative will expand beyond the UCF proximity.
“Hopefully one day we can go outside of Orlando,” she says. “One day, maybe we will collect enough linen to send over to other countries.”
This article appeared in a May 13, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited for style. See original story.