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A Milestone Birthday Leads to a Windfall for QCC’s Food Pantry and Resource Center

January, 2020
  • From left: Ingrid Murphy and PTK students Luceily Ortiz, Farah Mohamad and Alexander Paulino.
    From left: Ingrid Murphy drops off donations to the QCC Food Pantry and Resource Center with the help of PTK students Luceily Ortiz, Farah Mohamad and Alexander Paulino.

It was by pure chance that Douglas resident Ingrid Murphy read a story in the local paper about Quinsigamond Community College’s Food Pantry and Resource Center. A mother to two grown daughters, she was stunned to learn of the food insecurity that college students face, particularly right in her own back yard.

“I had never thought about college students going through hunger,” she said.

Deciding that she wanted to learn more, Ms. Murphy contacted QCC and spoke with Bonnie Coleman. Ms. Coleman is the college’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society advisor and has been instrumental in helping to run the food pantry. Ms. Murphy learned from Ms. Coleman that a college survey (2018 Wisconsin Hope Lab Survey) showed close to 50 percent of students at the College were food insecure.

“This is just so sad that these students are going through this on top of all the other things they have to deal with,” Ms. Murphy said.

It didn’t take long for her to decide that she wanted to help make a difference. As a member of the Blackstone Valley United Methodist Church in Whitinsville, and active member of the church’s women’s group, she knew it was the perfect time to bring this to the church’s attention, as the women were putting together a retreat and looking for a mission project. She presented her idea of gathering donations for the college’s food pantry and the women of the church were immediately onboard.

“They thought this would be great to use as our mission project,” she said.

Quickly the project snowballed as the entire church learned of the students’ needs. For eight Sundays the entire church collected donations for the school’s food pantry.

“We got a lot of donations. It was just wonderful and it spurred a lot of conversations,” she said, adding that she has no connection to QCC. “After we made our donation to QCC, another article was in the paper about college students and food pantries and people from the church sent it to me.”

Recently Ms. Murphy celebrated a milestone birthday and her husband, Brian Murphy, decided to do something extra special for her. Unbeknownst to her, he planned a surprise party in her honor and asked the invited guests to bring donations for the college’s food pantry. Needless to say, Ms. Murphy was flabbergasted when they held the party.

“Oh my gosh, I had no idea! They had all this food in the back and they brought it to me and asked that I donate it to the food pantry. I just lost it,” she said.

Donations ranged from food to toiletries, and even included $102 in cash.

“The whole car was filled. It was just amazing,” Ms. Coleman said.

Between the two donations, Ms. Coleman estimates there was close to $1,000 worth of food and toiletries donated. Ms. Murphy said she plans to keep making donations and bringing awareness to the needs’ of college students. The church is also planning to do another donation drive for the college’s food pantry in the spring.

“Young people need a break and we need to help them more. They’re our future,” she said, adding, “It takes a village doesn’t it?”

To learn more, visit the QCC Food Pantry and Resource Center .