Updated on April 4 at 12:52 p.m. to include statements from senior Bella Branham regarding the fundraiser.
After the announcement that Elon University students would be moving online after spring break, senior Bella Branham decided to turn that disappointment into opportunity.
Branham made a Facebook post linking students to a fundraiser she started through UniversityTees, where they could purchase sweatshirts and T-shirts with the phrase “I Miss Elon” printed on them.
The fundraiser is no longer accepting orders.
According to Branham, 10% of each purchase will go to Allied Churches of Alamance County. 90% goes back to the company for printing, shipping and packaging costs. Shirt prices ranged from $20 to $33.
“The order sold 65 products,” Branham said. “It will be over $100 in donation to ACAC.”
Freshman Anna Cave bought a white long-sleeved shirt with the phrase after seeing the social media post because she missed Elon and wanted to help out the cause.
“I know the town of Elon already struggles in the summer with the majority of students gone from campus, so us leaving two months early is obviously really going to impact the community in a negative way,” Cave said. “It was a great idea and a really easy way to help.”
The shelter’s ability to provide dining services is currently being affected by COVID-19, according to Jai Baker, the interim shelter manager. At this time, they are unable to continue providing dine-in services.
Despite this, Baker said he wanted to continue serving hot meals to the community rather than switching to bagged lunches and dinner; however, the shelter needed carry-out trays and utensils, neither of which they had on hand.
“Because we’re a congregate meal setting, we’re not allowed by USDA to serve in carry-out trays,” Baker said. “We did get the waiver to do that through USDA, but of course then we had to figure out how to get three compartment trays.”
Despite the difficulty, Baker says they’ve been able to fall back on the community for assistance. According to Baker, there are 15 to 20 people that he can call to help order carry-out trays for the shelter. He also uses social media platforms to ask for donations to help with the costs, which can reach over 2,000 people.
“I post a needs list there and we immediately start to get a response,” Baker said.
Baker said there is also a general fund that he hopes will help support the shelter.
“I am working with the United Way of Alamance and they do have a ‘Help4Alamance’ fund,” Baker said.
United Way of Alamance County is a volunteer organization that collects donations and participates in community service programs across the county. According to its website, the organization’s “#Help4Alamance” fund was created to support the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To avoid spreading the virus, Baker changed around the work shifts of his staff and suspended the shelter's volunteer program. According to Baker, there were over 800 ACAC volunteers. However, there is still a full kitchen staff working to prepare meals.
“What I was concerned about is, being a one-man show, if I got sick and we were all here, what would happen?” Baker said. “So, [we’re] kind of really trying to be proactive and take care of that as well.”
While the coronavirus has affected their operations, Baker feels that his shelter is well prepared.
“We started planning in February for this,” Baker said. “We’re just kind of planning for the long haul.”