The Office of Student Life is asking OSU Institute of Technology students, faculty and staff to give back to the Okmulgee community this holiday season one can at a time.
Student Life is organizing a canned food drive in November and early December as part of its monthly community service campaign.
Canned foods and non-perishable food items can be dropped off at donation boxes in Covelle Hall, the Student Union and the Library until Dec. 3. All of the collected items will be donated to area food banks in Okmulgee and Henryetta on Dec. 4.
“We all know that students are normally strapped for money; however, whether we are a student or an employee of the university, we need to realize that there are a lot of people who need help more than us,” said Pat Singleton, Student Life staff assistant. “By taking the opportunity to give back to the community, we not only help others, but it helps us to realize how truly blessed we are.”
Janet Watkins is the manager at the Okmulgee Salvation Army, which operates one of several food pantries offering assistance to residents in Okmulgee County.
In October, the pantry ran out of food three times and Watkins had to go buy more food to replenish the pantry’s shelves with funds that could have been used for other assistance programs.
“Last month we had 27 families come in to the pantry. We just see more people at this time of year,” Watkins said. “We try to give them enough to make three or four meals.”
Items the pantry always needs are things like canned fruit, pasta and pasta sauce, cereal, oatmeal, beans, even cake mixes and canned icing.
“Things you can build a meal around,” she said.
The Salvation Army is known for its Angel Tree and Christmas Food Basket programs, outreach projects where children from families in need can receive Christmas gifts and those families can have a traditional holiday meal.
As of Nov. 10, Okmulgee’s Salvation Army had already received 77 more applications than last year for its Angel Tree and Christmas Food Basket programs.
“It’s a big need here in town,” Watkins said.
Singleton said she knows there are people who need assistance year round, but the holiday season seems to be a time when families need a little more help to get food on their table, which is why she hopes the OSUIT family steps up to give to those who need it.
“We will be encouraging people to bring a can of food to various events on campus during the drive. I personally would like to see one can of food for every student, faculty and staff member. I believe that would total 3,000 cans of food,” she said. “Just think of the people in our community we could help if we all contributed just a little.”