By Essence Byrd
CCC Journalism Program
Because of restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Camden County College has canceled its annual toy and coat drives this year. Instead, the college is focusing on providing food for needy families.
“Due to the current pandemic, we are not going to hold a toy or coat drive this year,” said Associate Dean of Students Jacqueline Tenuto.
Around the end of November each year, college representatives would start to promote the drives to make sure they received donations by the start of the winter holidays. They would also start around this time to ensure the families in need knew when to visit the distribution sites.
“Because we are in phase 1 of the pandemic, we cannot hold events like we’ve done in the past,” Tenuto noted.
But the need remains. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 13.7 million families were considered food-insecure households in 2019. As the unemployment rate rises, this number is projected to increase.
Because of this, the college is intensifying its effort to collect and distribute food through The Marketplace, a food pantry the college opened in 2019 to help feed families who are suffering from hunger and food insecurity and to unite the community to assist people in need.
Former Camden County College student Anita Dorsey said she was eager to assist any way she could. Normally she would donate old coats and toys but this year she is donating food.
“I was a single mother of three young children. I remember, very vividly, what it was like to stress about where our next meal was going to come from,” Dorsey said. The request for food donations “hit home. I was sad for the families that have to experience this but I am also thrilled that I can play a part in donating.”
Camden County College students may visit the Public Safety Desk in the Connector Building on the Blackwood campus or the Camden Technology Center Desk on the first floor of the Camden campus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 16 to receive food.
Anyone may donate food on the first floor of the Wolverton Library, Room 200 of the Otto R. Mauke Community Center or the second floor of Taft Hall on the Blackwood campus, on the first floor of College Hall and the first floor of the Camden Technology Center on the Camden campus and at the enrollment desk on the first floor of the William G. Rohrer Center on the Cherry Hill campus. Monetary donations may be made by using the Camden County College Foundation webpage.
Camden County College has also teamed up with Camden County’s food distribution program, which has scheduled giveaways for Dec. 4, 11, 18, 23 and 30 at various locations around the county. These giveaways are drive-up only and visitors must wear masks.
“Partnering with local food banks and feeding those who are facing financial hardships are our two main focuses,” Tenuto said.
The Marketplace webpage: camdencc.edu/marketplace
USDA food-insecurity information: https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/frequency-of-food-insecurity/