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Students Organize Fundraiser to Benefit West Haven Food Pantry
Members of the student-run Mayor’s Advisory Commission are committed to supporting the West Haven community. So when they learned about an increased need at a local food pantry due to the coronavirus pandemic, they answered the call.
June 23, 2020
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Keyri Ambrocio ’21 is passionate about serving as an ambassador to West Haven. She was determined not to let the coronavirus pandemic get in the way of students’ service to the University’s host community.
Each fall, she looks forward to WestFest, an annual community festival that celebrates the close connection between the University of New Haven and the West Haven community. Since the event has been canceled this year because of the pandemic, she and her classmates wanted to find another way to serve the community. So, they organized a virtual fundraiser for the West Haven Emergency Assistance Taskforce (WHEAT).
“Through WestFest, we have been able to donate to WHEAT each year,” said Ambrocio, an international affairs and political science major. “Now, more than ever, WHEAT needs help assisting the West Haven community. Although we won’t be able to hold WestFest this fall, we wanted to continue our tradition of donating to WHEAT, since the organization is so important to the West Haven community – especially now.”
Ambrocio is chair of the student-run Mayor's Advisory Commission (MAC), an initiative established in 2015 by Chris Haynes, Ph.D., an associate professor of legal studies and political science. The organization enables students to work closely with the West Haven Mayor's Office to enhance the relationship between the University and West Haven communities.
Christian Zapata ’21, a political science major who has helped organize the fundraiser, says initiatives like this are more important than ever.
“This is a difficult time for all communities, but it is still a time for our community to work together as we have in the past,” he said. “My hope is that this fundraiser will help families through these unprecedented circumstances and remind us all that we must be there for each other, now and in the future.”
The students collaborated to create a virtual fundraiser for WHEAT through the crowdsourcing website GoFundMe, and they’ve already exceeded their initial goal of raising $1,000. They also created a video to promote the fundraiser, which features several students and West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi.
“I believe it is important to give back to the West Haven community, and that is why I joined MAC,” said Micaela O'Shea ’21, an international affairs and political science major. “Since the pandemic started, the number of families WHEAT is helping per month has nearly doubled. Now more than ever, WHEAT needs support from the West Haven and University communities. I am so proud of MAC’s work, and I hope we can help contribute meaningfully to WHEAT and the families of West Haven through our virtual fundraiser.”
"The number of families WHEAT is helping per month has nearly doubled. Now more than ever, WHEAT needs support from the West Haven and University communities."Micaela O'Shea ’21
Killian Gruber ’22, who also helped organize the fundraiser, says he’s grateful for the opportunity to support WHEAT, which serves more than 5,000 people each year.
“This fundraiser is important because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which can be seen in West Haven,” said Gruber, a political science major. “As a West Haven resident and a Charger, I believe it’s important to give back to the community during these challenging times.”
Ambrocio and her classmates hope the fundraiser will enable WHEAT to continue to serve the community and to help even more people in need.
“Our relationship with West Haven officials has helped to improve our community service efforts and help to foster a better relationship with the city of West Haven,” said Ambrocio. “It’s important to have a good relationship between the University and West Haven because this allows us as students to learn more about the community we live in and help to make an impact locally.”
To support the fundraiser to benefit WHEAT, click here.