Clothing drive to benefit students, food bank

One of the newest members of the University of Lethbridge Students' Union General Assembly has developed a way to incorporate her love of fashion with education – in a way that could benefit a wide variety of students.

Sara Ritchie, a fifth-year education student, has established an event for students to buy inexpensive clothing, all the while supporting the ULSU Food Bank and raising money for Faculty of Education student scholarships.

"One of my initiatives when I was running for education representative was that I wanted to raise money for an additional student scholarship," says Ritchie, who became a ULSU General Assembly Representative in September. "In light of the recent economic down shift and the provincial education budget cuts, there really isn't a lot of money circulating for us to try to gather scholarship money."

Donated clothing has been collected on campus since Oct. 26 and will continue to be compiled until Nov. 6. There are drop boxes in the 1st Choice Savings Centre, by the Security Office, in the U of L Atrium, in the Students' Union Office, at Nicholas Sheran Community School and at St. Mary's School.

"This is not only University-based as we are reaching out to the Lethbridge community as well," says Ritchie. "There will be clothing there for everyone, not just young adult clothing and not just women's clothing. It really will be an event for everyone."

The clothes will be sorted for the sale, which runs Nov. 9-10 and Nov. 12-13 in SU300 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Admission to the sale is a non-perishable food item. Once inside, people can purchase clothing for $2 to $5 per piece. Ritchie wants to see as much money and food as possible collected.

"I would like to see a minimum of $3,000 raised but if we could reach $5,000, I would be beyond happy," she says.

"Incorporating a food drive into the event seemed like an easy way to help yet another good cause."

Post-secondary education is not always easy to obtain, especially if students struggle financially. The goal of the ULSU Food Bank, operating since 2004, has been to alleviate some of the pressure placed on students. Being able to put food on the table is one less thing students have to worry about. The food bank relies on generous donations and needs-based funding from the Quality Initiatives Program to operate. Food drives can serve as a tremendous contribution from the University community.

"The ULSU Food Bank is such a readily available service to students in need because it is on campus," says Cole Lehto, vice-president internal. "It often experiences a very high volume of users returning on an extensive needs basis. With budget cuts all over post-secondary education right now, supporting the food bank with donations and creative projects is essential to the expansion and future of the service."