The USF Sarasota-Manatee campus contributed hundreds of personal hygiene items to area homeless on Thursday as part of an MLK Day of Service event ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Faculty, staff and students from the Honors College, working at tables in the campus’ FCCI Rotunda, packed the items – including soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, razors and deodorant – into plastic bags.
“It feels good helping people,” senior psychology major Brandie Teachey said. “It’s a nice way to give back.”
More than 150 bags were filled. The items were collected on the campus starting in December.
Darren Gambrell, assistant director of the campus’ Office of Multicultural Affairs, delivered the bags to the Turning Points homeless assistance agency on 17th Avenue West in Bradenton and the Salvation Army shelter on 14th Street West in Sarasota.
The intent, he said, was to provide the items ahead of time to distribute on or before Monday’s holiday.
“The whole campus really came together,” Gambrell said. “We received more items than I expected, but it doesn’t surprise me. USF always steps up when it comes to reaching out to help others. That’s what this campus is about.”
The effort comes as campuses and colleges across USF marked the upcoming holiday with similar acts of outreach and charity. USF formally kicked off the MLK celebration on Friday with a Stampede of Service event. Throughout the month, students will participate in community service projects at eight Tampa Bay locations.
On Friday, USF students sorted food items at the Feeding Tampa Bay warehouse and served hot meals at Trinity Café, a Feeding Tampa Bay restaurant for those in need. A full list of activities can be found on the MLK Commemorative Week webpage.
Cayla Lanier, campus director at the Judy Genshaft Honors College at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, worked with Gambrell to recruit student volunteers.
“For me, it’s about building community, and our students agree, which is why we volunteered for this MLK Day of Service,” she said. “It’s also a time for our students to get together after class to bond while supporting the community, which is important. It’s nice to give back and help others.”