Great Stories from OCC’s AmeriCorps Student Resource Center- Owens Community College

November 16, 2021
OCC’s Student Resource Center Coordinator at Owens Community College, Sarah Boeglin, with Free Store sign acknowledging ServeOhio’s 2021 Make a Difference Day Grant.

Written by Sarah Boeglin, Ohio Campus Compact’s Student Resource Center Coordinator at Owens Community College

This school year I am serving as an AmeriCorps Member through Ohio Campus Compact at Owens Community College as a Student Resource Center Coordinator in their Center for Campus and Community Connections. I connect students to resources off campus and on campus, including the Harvest Food Pantry, Career Closet, Community Garden, and now the Free Store as well.

ServeOhio’s 2021 Make a Difference Day Grant funded the creation of the Harvest Free Store, which opened on Monday, October 25. Volunteers assisted in preparing the Free Store space, and organized and displayed the donated items on the shelves. The students were already selecting items within the first fifteen minutes the Free Store was open, and the shelves were restocked three times with kitchen items, which students can use to prepare and enjoy meals with food they may also receive from the Harvest Food Pantry.

Free Store open house

In addition to offering kitchen, school/office supplies, and a variety of other items, the Free Store also assists in connecting people who have furniture to give and those who need furniture. Many faculty and staff have inquired about how they can donate items to the Free Store as they remove items from their offices and homes.

The impact of the Free Store has only just begun. The Free Store offers a wider variety of items than previously available through the Center for Campus and Community Connections and provides a way for people to sustainably dispose and reuse items, which may have otherwise ended up in a landfill. A representative from Keep Toledo/Lucas County Beautiful had a table at the Free Store Open House to talk with students and staff about their recycling initiatives and volunteer opportunities.

Two students who visited the Free Store and selected kitchen items, calculators, and water bottles.

During the Open House, in addition to assisting students and providing tours of the new Harvest Free Store and other services offered, I was interviewed by Channel 13 ABC. The story about the Free Store originally aired at the end of the 5:30p.m. newscast on Monday, October 25.

Through my service, I tabled at Owens Community College’s Open House on October 11 to talk with potential students about the resources available through the Center for Campus and Community Connections. I have also brought more awareness of our services by regularly updating the Food Pantry bulletin board in the hallway and creating the Fall issue of The Center for Campus and Community Connections Harvest Newsletter, which was shared with the Owens campus and community partners.

In addition to the Food Pantry, Career Closet, Community Garden, and Free Store, we also hold activities such as the annual Community Action Fair, annual Winter Coat and Winter Gear Drive, annual Giving Tree, and monthly PAWS (Pet Away Worry and Stress). Toledo Animal Rescue brings some of their cats and dogs to our center for students and staff to spend time relaxing with animals.

I’m really enjoying my time serving as an AmeriCorps member creating a safe, welcoming space for students and all of the Owens campus to feel supported and encouraged. I look forward to the Spring semester and continued service efforts.