Warriors Helping Warriors
Warrior Open Cupboard Helping Support Students
To provide support for students in need of essentials, the Warrior Open Cupboard has recently launched on the Midland University campus.
Spearheaded by Scott Johnson, Director of Campus Ministry, Theresa Ferg, Associate Professor of Education, and Courtney Wilder, Professor of Religion, the Warrior Open Cupboard is heavily based on the mantra of “Warriors Helping Warriors.” In a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a definite need for a program like this, and the early returns have been encouraging.
“It’s been fun to see items moving in and out of the Cupboard,” Johnson said, “It’s good to know that we’re meeting a need for our students, especially with how hard the last year has been due to COVID restrictions.”
Though the Warrior Open Cupboard, located on the third floor of the Olson Student Center, went active late in the fall semester, the program has been in the works since November of 2019. In addition to faculty members, Anderson Leader students Nathan Spicka and Chaleigh Mattson were involved in planning the program in the 2019-2020 academic year. A program like this being put into effect has been heavily supported by Midland leaders, though the pandemic delayed plans for launching the program earlier.
“This has been something on Midland’s radar since before I started at Midland in November 2019,” Johnson said, “But COVID-19 interrupted our plans just like a lot of other stuff we hoped to move forward much more quickly. “
Many factors went into getting the pantry launched, but fortunately, the pieces came together. The team worked with Student Affairs to find the best place for the pantry and get students involved with the process.
“It’s been a bit of a challenge to find a good space for the Open Cupboard and figure out the best way to actually run it. Once we settled on the location on the third floor of OSC last fall, it really became a question of putting together shelving, getting first donations organized, and spreading the word that the Open Cupboard was available.” Johnson said, “In early November, ahead of our soft opening, we held a pantry naming contest. We had many submissions, and the winning name was suggested by Sydney Regan, who received $25 in Warrior Bucks for her submission. We’re working on designing a logo for some signage and promotional materials to spread the word about the WOC better.”
When developing the Warrior Open Cupboard, the team envisioned the program as a means to build a community of support amongst students and faculty. Items donated are a resource for students who need them, and many of the items are provided by members on campus.
“We hope to be more than just a food pantry; we want to meet the unexpected needs of Midland students in many ways. For example, we’ve got hats, gloves, and other winter wear available because we know some of our students come from parts of the world that just don’t experience winter as we do in Nebraska. We’ll keep toiletries and other personal care items on hand, and we’ve had requests for some office supplies that we’ve been able to meet as well,” Johnson said, “We keep a suggestion box ready to go, and we’ll be checking to see what more we can provide for students. One of our next steps will be to post information about other types of aid that are available to Midland students through Student Affairs and Residence Life.”
The team hopes to expand the program’s reach beyond campus by including the Fremont community as a partner in providing support for students. It will work to strengthen the already strong relationship of support between Midland and the Fremont community, and a bigger pool of support will allow the Warrior Open Cupboard program to support students with items students feel they need.
“Now that community organizations are beginning to open up as COVID-19 is starting to die down, we’re going to try making some partnerships with local churches to keep donation bins at their churches,” Johnson said, “Since the goal is to serve our students, we’ll try to listen well and incorporate student feedback into any plans to expand or change the pantry format going forward.”
As this program continues to expand, the team wants students to know that it serves as a resource for all students on campus, with no strings attached. It does not matter what a student’s background is; it is simply meant to be a resource regardless of the situation a student finds themselves in.
“The big thing is that the Warrior Open Cupboard is for all of our students in all situations, available any time students have access to OSC. When we were first figuring out how this would work, we wanted to adopt the philosophy of the Little Free Food Pantry, a program started by Lutheran churches in Arkansas: ‘Take What You Need, Give What You Can,” Johnson said. “We are developing some inventory systems so we can understand which items are in highest demand, but only so we can make sure we have what’s needed on hand. We want the Warrior Open Cupboard to be a resource for our entire community with no strings or conditions attached.”
With the Warrior Open Cupboard up and running, the hope is that it continues to grow and become a resource for students on campus, and any support for the program will go a long way toward realizing that vision. Whether it is non-perishable food items or clothing articles, items can be donated either at the donation table on the second floor of the Olson Student Center or faculty and staff can bring items to the education college offices in Anderson Hall. Pastor Johnson will also accept donations in his office on the Olson Student Center’s third floor when he is available. For more information, email Pastor Johnson at email@example.com.