Southeast creates Care Closet for students

Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC) has begun a new initiative to address the needs of its students: A Student Care Closet.

According to Kathy Ditty, associate professor and director of the Academic Support Center on the Cumberland campus, members of the Student Government Association (SGA) as well as the Southeast Christian Fellowship of Students (SCF) began discussing the project earlier in the semester. They surveyed staff, faculty and students and researched the level of need throughout Harlan County. They also examined similar projects on Southeast’s other campuses and at other institutions.

“Whitesburg has offered a food pantry for students for a while now,” says Ditty. “Students know that if they don’t have lunch or a snack, they can visit the admissions staff. They have a wonderful campus culture.”

The Academic Support Center’s new, larger campus location provided the perfect space, and students converted an old darkroom closet into a clothes closet. SGA and SCF held fundraisers while faculty and staff donated clothing and other personal items.

“Everything was done with little fanfare,” says Ditty. “We have very kind folks who work here at SKCTC.”

Students enrolled in FYE classes inspired an addition to the closet — business attire for mock interviews. Once this feature was announced, “business suit donations just started pouring in,” says Ditty.

Ditty recently shared information about this project during the Students First Online Conference sponsored by KCTCS. Since then, her ideas have helped spark similar projects at other colleges.

Ditty welcomes anyone who is interested in starting a similar project to call or email her with questions. “We understand that in order to best serve our students, we must meet their academic needs, as well as their needs outside the classroom. Collaboration and partnership are often the best ways to accomplish this.”