by Mack Olmstead & Josh Grewal, Staff Writers
Manhattan College’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Phi Epsilon Kappa (PEK) hosted a food drive for the Hour Children at St. Rita’s Convent.
This food drive was held in Manhattan College’s Gaelic Park Athletic Center (GPAC) and in the Draddy Gymnasium from Nov. 1 until Nov. 12 through the athletic department, but continued until Nov. 19 through PEK.
Hour Children is a non-profit organization that helps reunite incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women with their children and provides them with wraparound services. The organization typically hosts food drives. This event has become very prevalent, as the number of those who need food from these drives has tripled since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic in the United States.
The pandemic has drastically changed the way Hour Children works in recent years. As many people have been limited to their access to work or food, they look to organizations such as Hour Children for support.
Kellie Phelan, a program coordinator for Hour Children, was inspired to join the organization after being incarcerated with a child.
“For the food pantry, numbers easily tripled in the families that we’re serving,” said Phelan. “We’re serving many new people, a lot of new clients, a lot of young people— a lot of people just depend on the pantry for as many resources as possible.”
“We always need canned veggies, fruits, rice, peanut butter and jelly,” Phelan told The Quadrangle. “We have a community refrigerator. So if somebody was to donate something to the food pantry that we could not give out on the line, we can put it into the community’s fridge. So nothing that is donated here goes to waste. There are a million options to make it available to somebody who needs it.”
Though the event was initially hosted by the PEK, SAAC wished to join in the effort in order to help the community, as well as create a connection between MC students and student-athletes.
Jillian Reiner, a member of SAAC, connected with Zach Olivan, the vice president of PEK, to discuss the logistics of the food drive event and how they could work together. Overall the food drive event was a successful collaborative effort. Courtney Warley, graduate student and member of the women’s basketball team, told The Quadrangle that the food drive is a great opportunity to improve the Riverdale community.
“I think it’s a great event,” Warley said. “I think it’s nice when we can help people in our community who are right here and I think that’s what this event does. I really enjoy seeing the boxes build up and just have something to help our community.”
Reiner, a coordinator of the event, thinks that teaming up with another organization helps to make the effort more impactful.
“It’s almost like a way to reevaluate and evaluate where you stand in your community and try to give back,” Reiner said. “It definitely shows you why it is important. Everyone should get involved, it’s something that everyone should partake in.”
Kaya Simpson, the president of SAAC, shares a similar testament.
“I think it’s a great way to help out. It just brings us together for the better,” said Simpson. “It’s a good feeling when you know You’re doing something for the community. We’re bigger than student-athletes and we can do more than just use athletic abilities. We can be other people In the community and have a positive impact on it. We’d like to be a voice outside of school.”
Simpson advises other organizations at MC to prioritize reaching out to each other to establish collaborations. She believes connecting is something that MC is particularly good at, and that others should use it.
The unprecedented pandemic has hurt many families in the recent months. Fueled by the donations of Manhattan College, Hour Children will be able to reach out and lend a hand to the many families around the area.
To Find out more information on future SACC and PEK events you can follow them on instagram @mc_sacc and @ manhattan_pek.
To find out more about Hour Children contact Kellie Phelan at (718)-483-8226 or KPhelan@ hourchildren.org