There is no better feeling than doing a good deed, whether it be helping out at an animal shelter or feeding the homeless. People get a sense of self-worth and euphoria when they see the good they are doing in the community. WVU Parkersburg has found a way to give back to its students, faculty and staff. Last spring, the idea was formed to create an on-campus food pantry that would serve those in need at the college. The Public Relations students from the Journalism department brought the idea to fruition.
In the fall semester, the idea was put into action. The Riverhawk Nest, named after the college’s mascot, found its perch on the third floor of the college. This location is only temporary, but it provides a discrete location for those who wish to come and receive food. To raise awareness and donations for The Riverhawk Nest, one of the public relations classes came up with the idea to have a can sculpture building contest. Hand delivered invitations were given out to the different divisions and facilities at the college as well as local businesses. The idea and theme for The Riverhawk Nest, is to “Can Hunger,” meaning eliminating hunger at the college.
The event raised over 2,500 donations to get The Riverhawk Nest – a solid foundation with which to begin serving the people of WVU Parkersburg. Student, faculty and staff members at the college are welcome to use its services. The food pantry provides an array of canned goods and other nonperishable food items. The size of the household determines how many items of each food category someone can receive. This food pantry is not income based, so regardless of someone’s financial status, they can still receive food if they need it.
For Easter, The Riverhawk Nest gathered donations for Easter food baskets. This was for families who may not have been able to afford an Easter dinner otherwise. Because of this outreach, The Riverhawk Nest was able to provide 13 Easter dinners to families at WVU Parkersburg.
Students and staff volunteer in The Riverhawk Nest every Wednesday and Thursday, from 11 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. and also from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. These are just the beginning operating hours; it is the hope to get it running Monday through Thursday and for longer periods of time later in the year. Donations are constantly needed to keep the food pantry stocked. Other Public Relations classes are coming up with ideas to raise awareness and donations for The Riverhawk Nest.
On April 15th, the Public Relations Writing and Case Studies class, in association with the Veterans Resource Center hosted the Can Hunger Games. It was an obstacle course set up by the VRC that teams had to go through and were timed on.
A team of four people could register to participate in this event and, upon registering, had to bring a minimum of 20 nonperishable food items. The teams came up with an array of team names, including Team A and Can’t BEET us (the team name of WPKM 96.3 – The Beet), and every team member had to go through each obstacle to finish.
The obstacle course started out with a low crawl, where participants had to crawl on the ground under ropes tied to spikes, and from there the teams proceeded into a tire run – juking from one tire to another. A balance board was the next challenge, and it did prove to be a burden for some due to the wet grass and slickening of shoes. After the board was crossed, the teams had to crawl through two separate culverts and move on to a 50 meter dash. The final obstacle was a rope pull that could only be completed when each team member had finished the dash. One person from each team pulled a 30 foot rope with a 20 pound weight on the end.
Team A, a group of students who came together for this great cause, were the champions and received a bragging rights certificate for having completed the Can Hunger Games with the fastest time of all the teams. This event raised over 150 items from the five teams that competed.
More events like this will take place in the future. These events get everyone; students, faculty, staff and community members involved and participating for something that is so rewarding to have at the college. These events also give back to the students and allow them to participate in things they otherwise might not get the opportunity to.
Until the next event, though, there are blue barrels that anyone can drop off donations in located throughout the college. The currents needs of The Riverhawk Nest are grains (rice), snacks, broth, toppings (gravy, etc.). cereal, jams, jellies, preserves, macaroni and cheese (boxes), instant potatoes (boxes and bags), pasta, pasta sauce and baking mixes.