Bobcats helping Bobcats. It’s a phrase. It’s a hashtag. It’s a movement. But what does it mean?
The phrase refers to the collective movement of Ohio University students, both past and present, bonding together to create change in the Ohio community.
The phrase has developed into a program at the university as well. The program, under the Office of Student Affairs, has launched an emergency fund which allows Ohio students to apply for one-time funding to offset costs that could affect their academic pursuits at the university.
But the program’s most widely known project is the Food Pantry located in Baker University Center. Ohio’s Assistant Dean of Students Kathy Fahl told OhioToday that when students don’t have enough to eat, they are more likely to miss class, drop out of school, have a harder time paying attention and experience other challenges.
Students and alumni aren’t the only ones on board with this project though. Once a semester, the Ohio Greek life community organizes a canned food drive with all of the donations going to the food pantry. It is a huge competition, and the community seems to raise more with each passing semester.
The rest of the community is on board too. Brenen’s, a local Athens eatery, is known for their “retweet specials” encouraging students to retweet their posts on Twitter for a chance to win free lunch. But recently, they have switched their script to also include donating meals through Bobcats Helping Bobcats. Brenen’s tweeted last month that they “gave away 56 meals for fun” last Monday, but that it was “time to get serious.” Tweeting that they had seen “recent local news coverage about students in need of meal assistance here on campus” and decided to give away 56 meals to those in need. Local businesses like Kroger and Wal-Mart are following suit with canned food donation points in their local locations.
The food hardship issue isn’t local to just the Ohio University community though. A variety of churches and food pantries help those in the extended community that need more help than their paycheck or government benefits can provide. The Feed My Sheep food pantry in Mineral, Ohio, has been feeding around 300 families a week.
Those looking to help or need more assistance on any of these initiatives please contact the Southeastern Ohio Regional Food Center at 1-800-385-6813 or by donating to the Ohio University food pantry.Capstone Social by Brie Boothby