Donors Support HSU Students During COVID-19

A HSU student checks out a laptop for distance learning. Donor funds have helped provide more laptops available from the Library.

A HSU student checks out a laptop for distance learning. Donor funds have helped provide more laptops available from the Library.

Donors are stepping up and supporting Humboldt State University students during these difficult times, providing funds for technology, basic needs including food and housing, and healthcare.  

HSU transitioned to remote instruction on March 26, and donor support helped many students continue classes through online learning. For those without computer access, the HSU library sent out almost 200 laptops to students, many of which were purchased with donor funds. Additional support from the Student Adversity Fund helped students with the transition by expanding data plans and access to Wi-Fi, a challenge for some students, particularly those who live in remote areas. 

Other students have been given funds for food and housing. Peggy Metzger, HSU’s Director of Financial Aid, predicts that basic needs support will be even more essential in the coming weeks and months. 

“What we are hearing from students so far is that they have lost their part-time jobs in the community, or their spouses or parents did, and they are just not sure how they are going to make ends meet until this is over,” Metzger said.

Established last year, the Student Adversity Fund provides support for students who need immediate financial assistance to stay in school. Since the creation of the fund, donors have given over $50,000 to keep students on the road to graduation, matching a $50,000 challenge grant. 

Over the last two weeks, donors have given more than $8,000 in additional gifts to the Student Adversity Fund. In coming weeks, the HSU Foundation will expand a call for support of this fund and other student support funds to many more potential donors.

Liz Hedlund, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology counseling program, is one student who recently received support through the Student Adversity Fund. Prior to the pandemic, she and her partner had been looking for jobs so that she would be able to continue her program. As the effects of COVID-19 started to take hold, this became increasingly unlikely. 

“I was truly afraid that I wouldn’t have been able to continue my education before I received those funds. With the money I was awarded, I have been able to sustain expenses essential to my life as a student, effectively supporting myself enough to lower my stress level so I can succeed in my classes and continue my education,” said Liz.

With the support of the Student Adversity Fund, Liz can continue her program and eventually work as a counselor for individuals and families who are struggling with PTSD and trauma.  

Donor funds have also helped the Oh SNAP! Student Food Programs respond to the emergency needs of HSU students. Currently, Oh SNAP! is serving 250 students weekly with groceries, including delivery to students who are unable to pick up bags of food. The program is also aiding students in applying for Calfresh and the Emergency J-point program, which provides credits to use at on-campus dining.

Oh SNAP! has been relocated to the bottom floor of the Jolly Giants Commons, and is offering pre-made food bags (vegetarian and meat options). Students can get a bag once a week. Distributions are twice a week on Wednesdays,10 a.m. - noon and Thursdays, 1 - 3 p.m.  Oh SNAP! is also offering assistance with CalFresh and Medi-Cal during its virtual Zoom office hours on Tuesdays and Fridays, 2 - 4:30 p.m. To make an appointment, students can also email ravin@humboldt.edu. Students are encouraged to follow Centers for Disease Control’s social distancing guidelines and wear face coverings when visiting the food pantry.

Donors to HSU have helped the broader community prepare and respond, which ultimately assists the campus community as well. The HSU Foundation recently committed $140,000 in donated funds to St. Joseph Health for the purchase of four ventilators. The equipment is needed to provide healthcare to the community, including HSU students and employees, during the COVID-19 response. 

“In so many cases, donors have been real heroes,” said Frank Whitlatch, Executive Director of the HSU Foundation. “Our priority at HSU has been protecting health and safety, and ensuring that students are able to progress toward earning their degrees. Donor support has been important in both of these aims, and we are grateful that so many are willing and able to help.”

<<<Support HSU Students through COVID-19 Pandemic>>>

To help HSU students stay on track to graduate during the COVID-19 pandemic, gifts can be made to emergency student support funds. To learn more, visit giving.humboldt.edu, or contact 707-826-5200 or giving@humboldt.edu.