For more than a decade now Durham College and Ontario Tech University have been giving out food hampers to students in need over the holidays, but this year there has been a twist.
With COVID-19, the college is not able to hand-deliver hampers to students, so they have decided to send out bursaries.
“This year we weren’t able to do what we have done in the past for obvious reasons,” says Paramedic Professor Kevin Griffin, who runs the food drive.
The economic impact of COVID-19 is also being felt by students on campus.
More than 400 students applied to the Campus Food Drive Bursary this year, more than three times the previous years average, according to Griffin.
Those involved in the food drive have changed the way they help students.
“We would have students register for hampers with financial aid, and we would pack the hampers usually about the Sunday before Christmas then we would deliver them,” he says.
Due to COVID-19 traditional efforts to secure food have been curbed, says Griffin. Traditional in-person fundraising activities such as sales of plants, toques and baked goods, or a puck toss event at an Ontario Ridgebacks’ hockey game, as well as hamper-packing day, are not possible to organize and execute because of the pandemic.
Griffin says a link has been sent out to staff and students where they are able to apply for the bursary or even donate, to help others in need.
He says the main focus is students with families who are struggling, and that there are other mechanisms for individual students.
Durham College Office Administration student Emily Marangon says the food hamper helped her and her family in previous years.
“Last year it helped a lot, I have two kids, one is four and another is two, and it’s just me and them with all the other bills that everyone else has too,” says Marangon.
“It basically made sure we had food on the table until January.”
Marangon says she has applied for the hampers in previous years as well.
“Every year that I have been at Durham, I have applied for their Christmas hamper, that they do,” she says “I also get help through the Salvation Army as well.
To donate go to https://durhamcollege.ca/info-for/alumni/giving-to-dc/donate-now
From there, Griffin says donors should “select ‘other’ as to where the money is going and type ‘Campus Food Drive Bursary’ in the textbox provided.”