Fairwinds pairs with pantry for Shred Fest
Credit union donates supplies
Published: Sunday, July 15, 2012
Updated: Sunday, July 15, 2012 16:07
Fairwinds Credit Union members and non-members brought bags and boxes of paper to be shredded at Shred Fest 2012, as well as bags and boxes of food to donate to the Knights Helping Knights Pantry.
Shred Fest, which provides a safe and secure way to dispose of personal documents and prevent identity theft, began in November 2005, but Saturday marked the first time the Knights Helping Knights Pantry had a presence at the event to spread awareness of the organization and to collect donations.
Since the beginning of July, each Fairwinds branch in Central Florida has been collecting donations from the public, as well as employees, to be given to KHKP. After sorting the food into uniform boxes, Fairwinds will match each box with an additional $50 donation.
Larry Tobin, president and CEO of Fairwinds, initiated the collaboration after UCF Foundation CEO Robert Holmes told him about the pantry and the work that it does.
“They are fulfilling a critical human need of people right around here,” Tobin said.
In fall of 2009, KHKP, run entirely by students, opened its doors. By presenting just a valid UCF ID, students will receive a bag and can take up to 5 pounds of free food each day that the pantry is open. As well as providing food, the pantry also has personal hygiene items, of which students can take as much as they need, and a small supply of business-casual clothing.
As a UCF alumnus and executive officer on the UCF Foundation board, Tobin feels that he is aware of the need in the community and reached out to Nicole Preston, outreach manager for the KHKP, to begin a steady flow of donations.
“We will definitely do this on a regular basis,” Tobin said.
A large number of UCF alumni make up the Fairwinds team, so there has been a lot of support from employees since the donations opened up.
“Black and gold literally permeates from our walls,” said Kate Renner, vice president of marketing for Fairwinds and a UCF alumna.
Tobin believes that the collaboration between Fairwinds and the KHKP is due in part to how Fairwinds operates.
“I think that is part of our culture at Fairwinds — to be benevolent and to be aware of what’s going on and then to actually do something about it,” Tobin said. “We’re all surrounded by these people that have these really deep needs. Who would think that there are students that don’t have food and aren’t able to get groceries?”
While Shred Fest focuses on conscientious care to protect against identity theft, KHKP focuses on assisting students through financial hardships to continue succcessful education. Preston explained that students who come through the KHKP work part-time jobs to pay for utilities and rent but do not have money left over to buy groceries.
Debra Bauer, a resident of Dayton, Ohio, attended Shred Fest with a few friends whom she was visiting. Upon seeing the KHKP table set up, she donated. Bauer related to students who couldn’t afford to pay for all their needs while in school.
“That’s why I moved back home, because it was too expensive to go to school, pay rent, buy food and pay tuition,” Bauer said.
In the past year, Preston has noted a growth in the amount of students who are in need of the KHKP resources.
“More students have been coming and more students have been coming more frequently,” Preston said.
KHKP documented that between January and May of 2012, 8,500 students received donations from KHKP, and 10,000 pounds of food was given to students.
Pantry manager Bella Craig, a junior who volunteers, thinks that getting to help out her fellow students is the opportunity of a lifetime.
“The students that come through are always so thankful, and say, ‘you know, without this program I would not be able to continue in school,’ and you know, there are students that live in cars that you don’t know about and you don’t think about that coming to an amazing university like UCF,” Craig said.
Fairwinds will continue to accept donations at its local branches, and Tobin is working out a plan to have KHKP present at more Shred Fest events.
“There’s just so much need in our community and to think that on the campus of UCF, which is such an incredible school, that there are students walking around that are hungry,” Tobin said. “Communities are all about people helping people. It’s part of our culture. We’re [Fairwinds] trying to get people to look around at what others have needs for.”