Giving Tuesday raises more than $25,000 for student emergency needs

December 11, 2023

Autumn and the Arch

Bellarmine’s Giving Tuesday campaign raised $25,025 for the university’s Student Emergency Needs Fund, which helps students with unanticipated financial crises by supporting programs such as the on-campus Knights Pantry and Knights Closet.

Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States, is an internationally recognized day for charitable giving.   

“We were so grateful for the community’s support on Giving Tuesday,” said Scott Self, Bellarmine’s vice president for Development and Alumni Relations. “With our largest first-year undergraduate class since 2018, services like the Knights Closet and our on-campus food pantry are being utilized now more than ever. We are proud to provide these essential resources to assist our students and ensure their success.”

The first-year class includes 632 students, which represents a 16 percent increase over the previous year’s class. Reflecting Bellarmine’s increasing emphasis on making an excellent Catholic liberal arts education accessible to students of all backgrounds, the Class of 2027 includes more students with higher financial need. Forty-six percent of the first-year students—almost half—are eligible for federal Pell Grants, and 44 percent are first-generation students.

Bellarmine programs such as the Hope Kentucky Scholars, which covers 100 percent of tuition and fees for traditional first-year and transfer students who are Pell-eligible, and the Public Price Promise, which matches the direct cost of the public flagship university in a qualifying student’s home state, take care of students’ major expenses.

But an unforeseen expense, even one that seems relatively small, can derail a student’s educational trajectory.

Alex Spoelker, assistant vice president of Development Operations at Bellarmine, recalled Dr. Helen-Grace Ryan, vice president for Student Affairs, telling her about a student who was crying in a hallway because she didn’t have $2,000 for car repairs and was contemplating dropping out of school.

“I kept thinking of this student and how we could help her,” Spoelker said. “We spend a lot of effort getting students on campus, and we need to do all we can to keep them on campus.”

Spoelker, who oversaw the Giving Tuesday campaign, suggested that proceeds go to the Student Emergency Needs Fund to help keep up with the increasing demands.

Students may make one request to the fund, which started in 2019, per academic year.

Knights Pantry, a no-cost food pantry for any student experiencing food insecurity, opened in Centro in the fall 2018 semester and is made possible through a partnership with Dare to Care and donations from groups and individuals. It is open 24 hours a day.

While the stock varies from week to week, it tends to include food like canned soups, macaroni and cheese, pasta, vegetables, rice, fruit cups, cereal and peanut butter. Students are welcome to access the pantry as many times as they need and take whatever they need. Information on use of the pantry is private, and what a student takes is not tracked.

Knights Closet was added in February 2023 to support students’ clothing needs. The closet includes gently used career-ready clothing, Bellarmine spirit wear and winter accessories.

Mikayla Pitmon, a Biology major, said Knights Pantry has been a positive and supportive resource for her and her friends. 

“Whenever university dining was closed over the summer, it was an invaluable resource to me and other summer residents who had barriers in getting to the grocery store,” she said. “I loved watching fellow residents cook meals together using some ingredients from the Pantry, and it really was a huge help when things got tight.”

There’s still time to contribute to Bellarmine’s Giving Tuesday campaign by visiting the Student Emergency Needs Fund.

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