October 28, 2011

Helping College Students

Yesterday I went through our “coat” closet and looked at all of the sweatshirts and fleece jackets that we owned. I pulled out all of the hooded sweatshirts and jackets that I felt we no longer wore. I left them out on our dining room table so that my husband and son could look them over and make the final decision.

Today I took those items to our local United Way office to donate. These items didn’t fit into their “winter coat drive” needs but they had a “free” table set up for anyone to come and look over and take what they needed. So I was also able to donate a large slightly used backpack along with three zippered school notebooks that had little wear at all.

The table didn’t have a lot of items on it and I hope that someone will walk into the United Way office and will find a “treasure” on that table and take it home.

I appreciate Goodwill and other thrift stores in town, but what happens when you basically have no money for even these stores? We are doing fine financially now and by that I mean that that because of living frugally and getting debt paid down, we are able to have some wiggle room in our monthly budget. I can honestly say that wiggle room is good.

Even though there have been times in our marriage when we have had very, very little money to live on, I was always able to come up with a couple of dollars to take to Goodwill or a garage sale to find a much needed clothing item. However I am aware that this is not the case for a lot of people, namely college students.

We have a college located in our community and I have become friends with a few of the students. College is expensive and when you can only get a 5 to 9 hour a week work study job, you end up living on very, very little money. When I was in college I had very little “spending” money. Spending money was for toiletries, laundry and any other possible necessities. I got $10 a week and that was horrendous to try to live on even back in 1979.

To save money I would wash my clothes and hang them up to dry. Sometimes I would handwash all my clothes and wring them out and hang them to dry around my dorm room. I had to plan ahead as it took longer to dry. Books were always purchased used. I don't think I bought hardly any clothes when I was in college. Everything had to last and when it came to toiletries, I had to make sure I got as much as I could from the shampoo and deoderant I bought. I remember laying awake and worrying about where I would get the money to pay for tuition and my living expenses.

I remember one time when my shoes were wearing through so much that my feet got wet walking through the rain or snow. I borrowed money from my roommate to go to K-mart to buy some cheap shoes and then I paid her back as I got some money. It’s a horrible feeling to go to college away from home and spend money on tuition and such, try to study so you get good grades to keep up your scholarship and then to also have to worry about money for basic necessities.

It is also a lonely feeling.

That is why I am drawn to helping college students. I was there one time and I want to pay it forward to help others. I can’t take away all of their money problems and frankly, we all need to go through the hard times in order to understand the good times. However, I can take the edge off.

So, if you know of a college student, do what you can to help them out even if it is simply a package of homemade cookies sent to them in the mail. The emotional support is just as important as a monetary gift.


Anonymous said...

My daughters school has a drop off center that I try and take things to when we pick her up. Basically anyone who goes to the school can go in and look around and see if they have what they need. It has been a great way to give boots, books, clothes, jackets, extra toiletries, school supplies to the students. We will be picking her up for Thanksgiving in a few weeks so I will start gathering things.

Great post


Out My window said...

I called my youngest yesterday and told her I was coming up to buy her some groceries. She was just arriving at a fencing class and they were putting on their gear. Someone said is that your Mom.? She said yes and they asked if I was going to pay for her groceries. She said yes they were all so amazed. I too had it rough in 1977-85 while I was in school. I had no help from home. But we expect our kids to work while they are in school and try to help them selves as much as possible.

Juhli said...

What a lovely and helpful thing to do. Sometimes it is hard to figure out how to share our excess and I think you found a great way.

Lisa Under the Redwoods said...

I am right there with you. I went to college from '79-'83 and lived off of $25 a week. That had to buy all of my food and any incidentals. I would go home every month or so and raid my mom's pantry (with her blessings) when I first started school. Towards my junior and senior year I had figured out how to make it work for me.

My son is in college now and we purposely have him on a limited budget. All of his room and board is paid for, but he wants to be a musician so he really needs to learn how to make a dollar stretch. He has done pretty good so far. Next semester he will be looking for an on campus job.