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Stocking Up: Rotary helps Patriot Pantry provide for students |

Stocking Up: Rotary helps Patriot Pantry provide for students

MARTINSVILLE–People had dropped off cans one at a time over the last few weeks. When they came to meetings of the Rotary Club of Martinsville, members brought cans of food with a specific intent in mind. On Tuesday, that intent was fulfilled, as group members paid a visit to the Patriot Pantry at Patrick Henry Community College.

Rotary Club of Martinsville President John Bruce and Service Chair Denny Casey dropped off two boxes of various canned goods to the pantry on behalf of the service organization.

The group originally contacted the pantry seeking to help with manual labor, but that wasn’t needed at the time. Instead, the Rotarians decided to host a canned food drive for the college.

A few weeks later, the two men brought the nonperishable items the group collected to PHCC.

“We’ve got all sorts of canned goods,” Casey said. “Beans, tomatoes, stew.”

“We brought in veggies and green beans,” Bruce said.

While it’s a generous gesture, Bruce said it’s not an uncommon characteristic of Rotarians globally.

“The slogan of Rotary International is ‘Service Above Self,’” Bruce said. “Our club in particular has started a format where we denote one meeting a month to a service project.”

At that meeting, the Rotary Club of Martinsville will perform an action that will make a positive impact on the community. That can involve painting the outside of a home or doing needed yardwork at a place like the Smith River Sports Complex to help it stay clean.

“Another very important focus area is food and providing much-needed food to our community,” Casey said.

Combining the service aspect and hunger-solving mission, giving to the Patriot Pantry seemed like a perfect fit.

“Projects like this work toward fulfilling our mission,” Bruce said.


Students at Patrick Henry Community College may go “shopping” for goods at the Patriot Pantry, using a point system. Items in the pantry range from a half-point to three or four points.

Amie Knowles

As for the Pantry itself, the operation has been a help for local students since opening back in March. The Patriot Pantry is located in the Learning Resource Center on campus, stocked with materials like canned and boxed nonperishable food items, disposable dinnerware and personal hygiene items. The idea is to help struggling local students, some of whom are living paycheck to paycheck right now.

“We are trying to do a little bit of everything,” said Elaina Terrell, administrative assistant in the Student Success Center. “They can get enough for meals or grab something here before classes.”

Designed to help students in need, each PHCC attendee has a total of 25 points to “spend” in the pantry – unless they have a family of three or more people; then they get an additional five points for a total of 30.

“They automatically get that,” Terrell said about the points, noting that there are no requirements or qualifications a student must meet in order to receive food.

“If you come in and say you’re hungry, we’ll help you,” Terrell said.

Students may select items to take home or foods on which to munch before or after classes. Products range from a half-point, like select canned good items, to three or four points for a bundle of trash bags.

“A lot of them are in immediate need,” Terrell said. “They come in and say, ‘We’re hungry.’”

Each college student may utilize the stock twice a month, taking advantage of products largely provided by generous donors, optional faculty and staff payroll deductions and partnerships with Feeding America and God’s Pit Crew.

Along with edible items, the pantry also stocks personal hygiene items, like shampoo, conditioner, body wash and toothpaste. Students get an additional 10 points to spend on hygiene products.

“A lot of the hygiene items are expensive,” Terrell said. “If you can’t afford food, I know you can’t afford that.”

According to Terrell, staff members who travel often bring in hotel samples of hygiene products, which students may attain for a point or two.

For more information about the Patriot Pantry or to schedule a donation, contact Terrell at (276) 656-5492.


The Patriot Pantry opened in March on Patrick Henry Community College’s campus.

Amie Knowles

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