18 March 2024 | Story Athembele Yangaphi | Photo SUPPLIED
Shoe Box
Supporting Student Success: UFS initiatives like the Santa Shoebox Project and the No Student Hungry Programme combat food insecurity, providing essential resources for students and fostering academic growth and community impact.

The University of the Free State's (UFS’s) Division of Student Affairs recently received a donation of food parcels for needy students from the Gift of the Givers Foundation. The donation forms part of the work done by the Division, the Food Environment Office and Kovsie ACT to positively impact students.

Jady Carelse, Assistant Officer in the Food Environment Office, accepted Gift of the Givers’ 250 food parcels at the UFS’s Bloemfontein Campus. “Starting a year can be very overwhelming for most students, especially first-time-entering students, as they are still trying to adapt to the change of environment,” Carelse said. “The Food Environment Office strives to ensure that food insecurity is not part of their struggle.”

Since its inception in 2011, the No Student Hungry Programme (NSH), a first in a higher education institution, continues to support students with food packages, especially those not funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

“The NSH has impacted the lives of many students through the food parcel initiative. We have received testimonies from our previous and current beneficiaries on how the initiative has impacted their lives in pursuing their academics,” added Carelse.

The NSH programme's food parcel initiative and the Santa Shoebox Project by the Division of Student Affairs are vital in supporting students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, in their academic pursuits.

The Santa Shoebox Project, which ran from 1 November 2023 to 1 March 2024, is one of many other initiatives that the Kovsie ACT office is highly passionate about. A-Step Assistant, Likhona Dladla, managing Kovsie ACT Community Service Portfolio, said, “We strive to be a helping hand to students by providing them with essential items such as toiletries, sanitary pads, stationery, and clothes to make their academic journey bearable.”

For the 2023/2024 Santa Shoebox Project, UFS residences donated 246 shoeboxes containing donations of toiletries for students in need. Residence Committee members responsible for community portfolios collected the donations from residence students and delivered the items in shoeboxes to the Kovsie ACT office.

“We believe that the donations we have received are of a high standard for the remaining projects and initiatives,” Dladla said.

Kovsie ACT welcomes donations from individuals beyond the university's residential community. Donations can be made directly at the Kovsie ACT office on the Bloemfontein Campus, and the team is ready to assist and accept contributions. Non-residents can also contribute through the annual Big Give donation drive, which encourages donations of non-perishable food items, sanitary pads, and clothing. Look for Big Give donation boxes around campus, gates, and key locations. Stay updated on donation drives and campaigns via campus posters and social media. Please click here to make a monetary donation to support the ‘Back a Buddy’ campaign.  

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