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APSU completes successful Food for Fines collection drive

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The holiday season is a time for giving, and the Austin Peay State University Department of Public Safety recently offered members of the University community a chance to give – and be forgiven – with its “Food for Parking Fines” program.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The holiday season is a time for giving, and the Austin Peay State University Department of Public Safety recently offered members of the University community a chance to give – and be forgiven – with its “Food for Parking Fines” program.

Partnering with the Save Our Students (SOS) Food Pantry, an on-campus food pantry dedicated to providing aid to students in need, the APSU Department of Public Safety conducted its first-ever food drive. From Dec. 8-14, students, faculty and staff were able to pay for their parking tickets with a donation of 10 canned food items.

A total of 1,627 cans of food, as well as numerous packages of pasta, chips and other food items, were collected from a total of 119 individuals with outstanding parking fines. All told, the APSU Department of Public Safety waived 156 parking citations.

“This was a really fantastic thing for the whole community,” Sgt. Derrick Oliver of the APSU Campus Police, said. “The giving is the main important thing here – especially at this time of the year. It seemed like every day, there were 300-400 cans of food in our office.”

Organizers say the original goal of the program was to collect over 900 cans of food.  Reaction to the program was extremely positive, with many donating more than the required 10 cans, and officers with the APSU Department of Public Safety also donating cans to assists students unable to meet the requirement for a waived ticket.

Due to the large number of donations, the pantry had to make multiple collection pick-ups from the APSU Public Safety office.

“(The APSU Department of Public Safety) was originally going to just do the drive for five days, but it was extended through the weekend because of its popularity,” Alexandra Wills, APSU Director of Service Learning and Civic Engagement and head of the SOS Food Pantry, said. “Every single day, we were coming to take the food out because it was just starting to overtake the campus police’s office.”

Wills said the high number of donations means the pantry could be able to meet the needs of the community through this upcoming summer. Wills said, however, that the pantry always accepts donations, and is always in need of staples such as canned fruit, meat and peanut butter.

The mission of the S.O.S. Food Pantry is to assist and provide supplement food to the needy at APSU who have been impacted by financial problems as a result of unemployment, divorce, disability, health, domestic violence, homelessness, disaster and rising cost of living. The pantry gathers, stores and distributes goods to those who find themselves in time of special need and crisis.