The University of Maryland’s Residence Hall Association will use the nearly $400 it raised during last week’s Dining Dollar Donation to help support students in financial crises.
RHA chose the UMD Student Crisis Fund — an organization that provides money, support and resources for students who have emergency financial needs — as this semester’s recipient.
While the fund helps students with everything from temporary housing, book replacements and school supplies after a fire, the money raised during last week’s drive will specifically go toward supplying food insecure students with emergency meal fund cards. The cards provide them with 10 free meals at university dining halls.
The fundraising effort, put on by the RHA and Dining Services, allows students to donate one dining dollar to a charitable organization chosen by the RHA. From Nov. 12 – 14, the RHA set up tables outside three dining halls and encouraged passersby to donate with a swipe of their student ID card. In total, it raised $395 over three days.
This is a significant increase from last semester, when the drive raised $95, and the previous semester, when it raised $250.
In the last two years, the crisis fund has quadrupled the money it gives out annually to $80,000. This academic year, the organization helped over 100 students in crisis.
Brooke Supple, the chief of staff in the university’s student affairs vice presidential office, said the RHA Dining Dollar Donation Drive is a great way for students to give back.
“A lot of times students are not aware of how many students are in need, and particularly how many students are food insecure,” Supple said. “One in five of our students, 20%, have some level of food insecurity.”
The fund does not cover requests to repay personal loans, educational travel, tuition payments or payment for fines or credit cards, according to its website.
RHA Programming and Community Development Coordinator Megan Berry said the group’s executive board chose the fund for the drive because of the large number of students who use it on campus. It was the only charitable group the body considered this semester.
“The reason we picked the Student Crisis Fund is because one of their advisers said the crisis fund is running very low, and there are a lot of students on campus [who] look to the crisis fund as their outlet to continue school,” Berry said.
Supple said it can be a vital resource for students who don’t know where else to look for help.
”The crisis fund is important because it helps provide emergency funding for unexpected crises for students who have no other place to turn,” she said.
Dining Services limits student donations to $1, which senator-at-large Erica Patterson said allows the department to raise funds for a worthy cause without losing a lot of money as a department.
Patterson authored the resolution to choose the UMD Crisis Fund as the Dining Dollar Donation Drive beneficiary after the executive board made its decision.
“I personally really liked the student crisis fund, and I really think we should support it because it’s just like a great opportunity for every student to have,” Patterson said.
In the past, donation drives have benefited organizations such as So Others Might Eat, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Terps Against Hunger and CARE to Stop Violence.