By Haley Hadge
A Coat Share Drive, organized by Student Services, is located in the McCarthy Center Lobby at the transportation desk, and will be operating through the end of March.
According to Kay Kastner, coordinator of student support initiatives, the purpose of the Coat Share Drive is to “provide a source of coats to students, faculty, staff, and the community at large who may be in need to help combat the difficulties of winter.”
Centrally located, but slightly tucked away with low traffic – the location of the Coat Share is intended to limit possible unease or embarrassment one might feel when in need of a coat, said Kastner.
“We find that this lowers the barrier a little bit,” she said.
Those not in need of a coat who may be beginning their spring cleaning and decluttering early can leave a coat for a fRAMily member in need – whether they are living on or off-campus. Anyone is eligible to donate, said Kastner.
In addition to donations from within the fRAMily, the Coat Share Drive is also sponsored by Circle of Hope, said Kastner, an organization that provides a regular supply of coats throughout the season.
“It is always nice to be able to have that kind of support from organizations,” said Kastner.
Providing service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging since about 70% of the community is working remotely, said Kastner. However, the Coat Share has been “highly utilized.”
Although the exact number of coats accessed by community members through the drive is near impossible to tally, due to the Wuctuating intake and outtake – it is estimated that “50 coats at least have gone out to people so far this year,” said Kastner, and it will continue to run as long as there is a need shown within the FSU community.
The Coat Share Drive concludes at the end of March. However, coats will continue to be available in the Rams Resource Center at the food pantry, said Kastner.
Additionally, this Coat Share Drive runs every semester – therefore, providing a consistent resource for the FSU community, she said.
This is a small way to “complement” the other initiatives that Student Services organizes, such as a food pantry, an emergency meal bank through the Rams Resource Center, and interview attire available through Career Services Center, said Kastner.
Therefore, the purpose of these initiatives is to ensure multiple ways to “help support Framingham State’s core mission of making higher education accessible to people of a variety of different backgrounds,” said Kastner.
She said, “If a student’s answer to the question, ‘Are you struggling?’ is ‘Yes,’ then come to my office and we can have a conversation. ... You don’t have to be alone.”
By working very closely with the Counseling Center, the Health Center, CASA, Student Accounts, Financial Aid, as well as outside organizations that have youth programs, she added, she can serve as a liaison for students and help them get access to the type of assistance they need.
“This [Coat Share Drive] is one program that helps to serve the University’s mission of having accessible education for everybody, but it [also] Hts into that broader mission,” said Kastner.
“Connecting them [students] with the resources to deal with those external stressors,” so they can reach their highest academic and professional potential while maintaining a healthy mind and body is something that Student Services is equipped to provide students with, said Kastner.
“I can help them to tease out all of the different areas in which they are struggling,” she said.
“There are different layers of struggling,” from mental health to financial issues. These types of “external stressors” can be addressed and assessed, Kastner said.
Kay Kastner can be reached by phone at 508-626-4596 and by email at email@example.com