“Sometimes we think that we have to do big gestures to help people, but programs like this food drive really mean a lot.”
The Black Alumni of Loma Linda is one of the diversity alumni associations of Loma Linda University. Formed in 1980, the association promotes and facilitates Christian professional health science education for Black students at LLU. Students have access to support resources like scholarships, mentorships and, most recently, food donations.
As the pandemic began, the Black Alumni of Loma Linda (BALL) jumped into action, subsidizing food costs for students who may be challenged by the scarcity of on-campus jobs. In partnership with Mount Rubidoux Seventh-day Adventist Church, BALL began a monthly drive-through food pantry to provide free groceries and necessities to eligible students. The food pantry is hosted on campus at the Councilors Student Pavilion.
So far, BALL has helped an average of 50 students at each month’s event and plans to continue the food drive as long as COVID-19 shutdowns are in place.
When a student pulls up in front of the Councilors Student Pavilion, BALL is ready. BALL committee members, including president Olivia Francis-Boyle, greet students with a friendly wave and a bag filled to the brim with fresh and non-perishable food.
Kimberly Seegopaul, a student in the School of Pharmacy, shared how BALL’s food drive made her feel like her community at LLU really cares about her. “I’m not from California, so it’s really meaningful to know that there’s a network of support here from faculty to alumni,” Kimberly noted. “As a student, my work is doing school full time. It gives me a warm feeling to know they care and makes me want to give back one day.”
BALL has also delivered food to students who do not have access to transportation.
“Because I don’t have a car, I can’t easily get to the store for groceries, and getting groceries delivered is often pricey,” says Alexia Ximinies, a School of Medicine student in the Basic Science microbiology program. “Having this resource for free on campus both ensures I can stay safe from unnecessary exposure and have access to things like toilet paper, despite the shortage earlier on.”
Alexia feels that BALL’s dedication to providing something that might seem small — groceries — is actually deeply impactful to her and other students struggling with the changes the COVID pandemic has caused. “Thank you for helping us to have a sense of security,” Alexia added.