Philanthropic ventures leave marks on the community


Gia Ciccone, the director of the Volunteer Center, prepares the Lend-a-Wing Pantry.

By: Hali Harden, Contributing Writer


Not everyone can afford the sustenance it takes to make it through each day. With that in mind, the UNF Volunteer Center is working on opening an on-campus food pantry for student use.

The center is scheduled to open the Lend-a-Wing Pantry in UNF Hall Feb. 21.
The Lend-a-Wing Pantry will offer free, nonperishable food and hygiene products to UNF students, following a model similar to that of the University of Central Florida.
Gia Ciccone, public relations senior and director of the Volunteer Center, says students can come once a day and take up to five pounds of food or household items on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“Just coming to college alone costs so much money, whether you’re commuting or living on campus,” Ciccone said. “So we thought that instead of people worrying about where their next meal is going to come from, if we have this resource for them, it would help a lot of students focus on their academics.”
Ciccone says the Volunteer Center sent out a survey about opening a food pantry, and out of 200 students, 91 percent responded that they would find a food pantry beneficial.
Billy Peare, a biology sophomore, plans on making good use of the pantry.
“I like the idea of the pantry because it gives back to students,” Peare said. “Maybe it will save me a trip or two to the grocery store.”
Other students share Peare’s enthusiasm.
“I’d love to get free food,” said Eric Newton, a business management junior. “I would definitely use it.”

Ciccone urges all students to make use of the pantry.

“Sometimes you can’t afford it,” Ciccone said. “And you’re waiting for your next paycheck. I know how that is. I think we all do.”

After a lengthy decision-making process, the Lend-a-Wing Pantry was designated to UNF Hall because the location offers easy access and anonymity.
“Privacy is a big thing; not everyone wants everyone else to know that they’re going to the pantry and that they need help,” Ciccone said.
The Volunteer Center needs students to help run Lend-a-Wing and contribute donations such as canned goods, nonperishable food items and unopened household necessities such as shampoo, conditioner and deodorant.

Because the pantry depends on donations, the Volunteer Center is sponsoring a Can Castle competition in the hopes of increasing supplies.

Teams will build structures out of pantry items and will be judged on the total number of items used and creativity. The competition will be held Feb. 15 during homecoming week.

Lend-a-Wing will be located in Building 53, and students can collect up to 5 pounds of nonperishable food items or hygiene products daily.

Ciccone also says the Volunteer Center put in a request to the Student Government Senate for a budget for start-up fees that will be heard by the Budget and Allocations Committee at UNF. The committee will meet Jan. 23 to vote on the request.


Ramps, Walks Show Extent Of Other Charitable Efforts UNF Organizations Make


Six-year-old Brandon has experienced more difficulty in his life than most children. Doctor’s visits and being carried in and out of his grandparents’ home were his daily routine.

Born with a rare form of multiple sclerosis, Brandon’s degenerative muscular disease prevents him from performing daily activities such as climbing stairs.

In October 2010, UNF’s Kappa Sigma fraternity learned about Brandon, and decided to take action. Kappa Sigma President Jerry Barrs, along with several other fraternity members, volunteered to build Brandon a ramp.

Members of Kappa Sigma fraternity build a ramp for a multiple sclerosis-stricken 6-year-old.


Now Brandon maneuvers in and out of his home independently.

“My fraternity is something that showed me the importance of giving back,” Barrs said. “I really like giving back to the direct community.”

This effort is one example of the many volunteer opportunities on and around campus.

Philanthropy doesn't follow Delta Upsilon President Mitch Haley, it rides on his back.


Students looking for opportunities can find them at the UNF Volunteer Center and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. These organizations help students give back and assist with the challenges of time and money.

The Volunteer Center focuses on raising awareness in variety of ways, including its first on-campus walk held in September.

The walk, Jayla’s Smile, was created when Jayla’s mom, a UNF student, reached out to educate the community about lupus after her 7-year-old daughter was diagnosed with the disease.

Ciccone said the Volunteer Center expected about 75 people to participate, but the final count was over 120 people.

“So many people came out just to walk around campus with Jayla,” Ciccone said. “This little girl was all smiles that day. She knew it was all people who actually cared.”

More information about the Volunteer Center and its scheduled events is available on the third floor of Building 58, including all the details about their upcoming healthy body image fashion show.

Shows can provide an entertaining way to impact the community for a good cause.

According to Rebecca Ucciardo, the vice president of programming and campus affairs for the panhellenic philanthropy events, Kappa Alpha Theta will host a Mr. CASA Nova pageant Feb. 24.

Kappa Alpha Theta supports Court Appointed Special Advocates throughout the year and raises money for the program, which provides foster children with a trained CASA volunteer who aids with court placement decisions.


Email Hali Harden at [email protected]