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College student hopes new wellness pantry can forge ties between WVWC, community

BUCKHANNON – The Consolidated Public Works Board approved a request to install a wellness pantry in a centralized location in the city as part of a West Virginia Wesleyan College student’s class project. 

Sydney McKinnon, a student enrolled in WVWC’s master’s in business administration program, attended the March 23 CPWB meeting to request permission to install the pantry at Jawbone Park.

“I’m in a project management class, and I wanted to use this to my advantage to be able to help people around here; this is my senior year, so I was really excited to take this class as an elective,” McKinnon said. “My idea for this class is to order a repurposed newspaper stand that has the phrase, ‘take what you need,’ on it, and it can be used to hold nonperishable food items, hygiene products, and even small clothing items for people in need here. I did a lot of research on the benefits of wellness pantries for people in a community, especially a close-knit one like ours, so I’m seeking approval to be able to install this unit somewhere in Buckhannon.”

No specific location was listed with McKinnon’s request, but her first idea was to place the pantry in Jawbone Park.

“I’m not here asking for money,” McKinnon said. “I have received my funding from my MBA program, and I’ve also talked to multiple Wesleyan organizations, such as sporting teams, Greek life, and even WE LEAD, that are ready and willing to help me keep these units stocked and put the pantry together for the community.”

“I have also been in close contact with the community engagement director there, and she has agreed to help me lead the organizations in stocking the unit after my part of the project is completed,” she added.

Part of her project is to utilize her marketing abilities to inform the community about the county’s new pantry and existing pantries.

“I want to be able to use my marketing tactic that I’ve learned from class to bring awareness to how much these can help in hopes that more people will be informed about the one I will be putting in and hopefully bring awareness to the ones that are already here,” McKinnon said. “I believe this project will benefit the campus and the community by bringing the two groups together and giving people a reason to give back to their community.”

The marketing campaign will include flyers and social media posts to inform people about the new pantry location.

“It can hold probably about $200 worth of groceries, and they come in multiple colors,” McKinnon said. “I was thinking about a neutral color, black or white, so it doesn’t stand out too much, but people still can see it easily in a certain place. I was thinking of putting it over by the pavilions where it’s covered just so people can sit down and eat if they need to – that’s just my first idea – but I’m open to any [suggestions].”

The CPWB voted to approve the placement of the pantry, but the Buckhanon Street Department will determine the best location at Jawbone Park.

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