The annual Cram the Van is a program initially organized by the Student Activities Board, with the purpose of being the collection of non-perishable items, with the end goal being to fill up the van as much as possible. The program would run for a week, during or near Homecoming, and the total donations collected would then go to the Greene County Salvation Army.
Pat Bristor, associate dean of students, said that due to the gradual decline in donations over the years during the week of Cram the Van, they are moving on and creating a new project.
The new program will be a “Toiletry Closet” project, and it will work in the same style as Cram the Van did, accepting donations, but more specific to toiletry items: deodorant, shampoo, tampons and more. Bristor said with the new program, it will still be a way for the university to give back to the community.
“We’ve been doing [Cram the Van] for about six years and donations have decreased considerably,” Bristor said. “In essence, [we were] trying to find another project within the years to come.”
Other factors that contributed to Cram the Van coming to an end is the university vans are being used more often and it also takes up parking spots for the one-week event, according to Bristor.
When Bristor decided to discontinue Cram the Van, she was searching for inspiration on what kind of service project that SAB could host next. Bristor said she heard about a program in Morgantown, West Virginia. that did a similar donation drive dealing with toiletries. She reached out to the five middle schools in Greene County, contacting principals and superintendents, to ask them if they were interested in collaborating with the new program.
“I made contact with the superintendents and/or principals of the five middle schools in Greene County to see if they would be interested in supplying toiletry items for middle-school children,” Bristor said. “We’re doing this to give the children in Greene County the opportunity to get the products.”
After Bristor got a confirmation from each school she pursued the ideas to bring the new program to life, and it has already begun. Donations have already been brought in, according to Bristor, and will be continuing throughout the week during homecoming. There are a number of ways that students can get involved to donate. This year, there are limited edition homecoming shirts, and Bristor said they are only $6 and that money will go towards buying toiletries for the program. Students can also bring in a total of five toiletry items and receive a shirt that way as well, in addition to providing toiletries.
Bristor’s focus for the new program is to make the closet recognizable to the parents in the region, in hopes they will get involved as well.
“Our goal is not that we get this going and supply it a couple of times a year but we also want to work with the superintendent and principal so maybe parents know that [students] benefit from it,” Bristor said. “We’re hoping that parents will become aware of the project and will also become donors to the closet.”
Students are allowed to bring in items all year-round and are encouraged to by Bristor, but she said that there will be three total weeks during the school year that the program will officially run; homecoming week, in January and one week in April.