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Campus & Community

One Big Week for Student Support

First Conference-Wide Fundraising Effort Responds to Critical Needs

By Karen Shih ’09

Campus Pantry employee

MiMi Drozdetski wheels produce into a refrigerator at UMD's Campus Pantry, one of the beneficiaries of One Big Week, a Big Ten Conference-wide fundraising effort to benefit organizations that support student needs.

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

For a first-generation college student who lost her job as a substitute teacher, the Student Crisis Fund helped her pay her rent. For a U.S. Army reservist studying and living on campus, the Campus Pantry was a lifeline for groceries.

These two critical resources have helped thousands of students during the pandemic—and with a new school year underway, there’s an urgent need to replenish these funds.

That’s why this week, Sept. 12-18, the University of Maryland is joining Big Ten Conference schools for One Big Week, a fundraising effort dedicated to supporting student needs.

“This is the first time the Big Ten is coming together as one group to raise money in a collective effort. Over the past year and a half, we all realized there’s a lot of similarity in what we’re going through on campus,” said Brian Logue, the executive director of annual giving. “A lot of families are still struggling financially because of the impacts of the pandemic. We learned that when you take students off campus, they still need to buy food or pay for daily expenses.”

Since 2020, UMD’s Student Crisis Fund has distributed nearly $2 million to more than 3,000 students to pay for housing, utilities and other basic necessities. The Campus Pantry, which provides free and nutritious emergency food, has seen its usage nearly triple during the pandemic.

More than two-thirds of students live off campus and don’t have dining plans, and many have reported struggling with food insecurity, says Colleen Wright-Riva, director of dining services. “Our dream in dining services is to provide access to good food to any member of the campus community in need—and the Maryland Campus Pantry is an important emergency resource that gives students, staff and faculty a short-term solution and refers them to other sources for support.”

Though at first glance, life looks like it has returned to normal at UMD, with students settling into residence halls and in-person classes resuming, the Delta variant surge and ongoing global crisis continue to affect UMD students’ ability to earn income and pay for living and health expenses.

“There are no words to describe my gratitude,” says one engineering student who received support from the Student Crisis Fund. “This fund will truly go a long way for my education. Amidst this confusion, my mind has been given a sense of clarity. Thank you again for giving me an opportunity to overcome this pandemic.”

Support One Big Week at Donations to the UMD Student Crisis Fund will be matched up to $30,000, and donations to the Campus Pantry will be matched up to $15,000.

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