“I know a lot of people struggle with asking [for help], but I have a saying: ‘the closed mouth doesn’t get fed.’ I’ve learned it’s OK to ask for help.”

Clarissa O’Dell, 23, is a student at Johnson County Community College where she’s currently studying liberal arts. But when the pandemic began, Clarissa, mother of Caleigh, 4, sought out help for herself and her daughter for the first time.

“I’ve been struggling really hard during the pandemic,” she says.

Clarissa discovered she was eligible for the work study program at the college and began working at the Basic Needs Center on campus, which supplies food, provided by Harvesters, diapers and personal hygiene products to students in need. 

“They’ve been a huge help,” she says.

Prior to the start of the pandemic, Clarissa studied sign language and was on the Dean’s list. But when classes went online, she says her grades started to slip.

“It was really hard for me to study and concentrate,” she says. “I’m a visual, hands-on person.”

But since she began working at the Basic Needs Center, Clarissa now has hopes to pursue a career in social work.

“The job has been a good fit,” she says.

Because you give, students like Clarissa can both continue their pursuit of education and have the nutritious food they need to fuel their success. Thank you! Please consider giving here.