Good Cause of the Month: St. Anselm FCF

A group of local college students finish the year by giving back



Donated goods fill the gymnasium at the campus rec center.

For the past two months, we've been alerting you to events and causes worthy of your time and philanthropic treasure in our Good Cause of the Month series. Keep an eye out for a Good Cause every month here at NHMagazine.com, from charitable events to volunteer opportunities to nonprofits you should get to know — and, by the end of the year, your do-gooder cred will be off the charts.

For this month's Good Cause, we'd like to tell you a bit about how students at Saint Anselm College are spending their final days on campus for the year. While other college students are planning one last rager or packing their bags to head home, a group of around 35 students at St. A's are sticking around for FCF. Also known as the Food, Clothing & Furniture Drive, FCF is currently in its 11th year of turning campus castoffs into community treasure.


 

How It Works

Early in the spring semester, students from all walks of life begin to apply to the FCF team. Some time later, the crew is selected and the student leaders in charge begin reaching out to their charity partners. Local churches, contacts made through area nuns, and organizations friendly with the school's Meelia Center for Community Engagement — all provide assistance in the one area of FCF operations that isn't done by the students: finding families to receive the goods collected during the drive.

The FCF student leaders this year are seniors Courtney Puccio, Amy Vachon and Carroll Bailey, and they say that between 80 and 100 families in the Manchester area will receive donations through this week's drive. The FCF team has been collecting and sorting donations since Wednesday, and today, tomorrow, and Sunday, they will be out in a small fleet of moving vans delivering the goods.

The premise behind this drive isn't totally unique to St. Anselm, but the charitable element and the level of student involvement both are. Around campus, FCF is mostly a convenient way to get rid of whatever's left in your dorm or apartment at the end of the school year. The free t-shirts you collected at campus events or the drawer full of Easy Mac you never finished can simply be dropped off as you leave campus in collection boxes inside the residence halls. For larger items — futons, that spare mini-fridge — you simply get in touch with FCF and they stop by during finals week to whisk your things away. In all, the drive collects enough stuff to fill the gym in the Carr Fitness & Activities Center.

By contributing to FCF, the items that students no longer need, rather than being thrown away or sold for $20 to a freshman down the hall, go directly to families who can use them. (Many other colleges hold discarded-dorm-stuff drives, but the items are often sold at campus yard sales that, at best, just donate funds to charitable organizations.) Sometimes, recipients of FCF goods are just looking for a box of food or a microwave; other times, they furnish entire apartments with items from St. A's.

As great as the drive is for the community, though — and, with the better part of a hundred families served (and leftovers donated to Londonderry's Makeover Ministry), it certainly is great — it's almost even more remarkable as a testament to the charitable spirit of St. Anselm students.

Despite its small size, the school is ranked sixth in the nation by the Princeton Review for community service. Most of the students on the FCF team participate in volunteer programs throughout the year with the Meelia Center, and this weekend is their final love letter to Greater Manchester. While their peers head home or to far-flung internships, these students will be driving U-Hauls around Rimmon Heights, eating group meals prepared by FCF alums, and spending a few last days on campus connected by the power of giving back.


How You Can Help

While FCF is student-run, there are a few ways you can get involved with the charitable efforts at St. A's. First, when the 2017-2018 school year is winding down this time next year, you can give the FCF team a heads up if you know of a family who could use their help. Try giving suggestions to your place of worship or contacting the student leaders directly at fcf@anselm.edu. You can also keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to donate goods. Though they currently only collect from students and faculty, FCF has grown substantially from its early years as a single classroom housing a few boxes of canned goods — you never know when a broader community drive could become part of their ethos.

Throughout the school year, you can also keep apprised of charitable events put on by the Meelia Center. A Relay for Life event, a holiday fair for local kids, and a special needs Valentine's dance are among the center's annual events.

Feeling particularly inspired by St. A's commitment to civic engagement? Find all the ways you can give back to the St. Anselm community — from donating to mission trip funds to becoming a corporate partner — here.


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