Walters State’s Claiborne County Campus has a surprise for students enrolling in the fall. The Service Learning Club built a Sharing Closet and loaded it with school supplies, a few snacks and even some microwavable lunches for fellow students.
The “closet” is actually a small room that became available on the campus.
“I showed them the space and the Service Learning Club did everything else. They cleaned it, put in the shelving and organized it,” said Kim Bolton, assistant dean of the Claiborne County Campus.
One of the leaders in getting the closet open was Jessie Seal. He lives in Sneedville and is a financial services representative at First Century Bank. Even with his full-time job, he devoted countless hours to service club activities.
“I thought this closet would bring students together and create more friendships. The Claiborne County Campus Service Club is involved with many projects off-campus. We wanted to do something that would help our own community, students,” Seal said.
The closet had hours and monitors in the beginning weeks. Now, the closet is open several hours everyday and students are free to get what they need. The most popular item? Printer paper, and that’s easy to understand. Walters State allows students to use printers, but students must provide their own paper. When you need to print off a few pages before class, finding paper on campus could cause a crisis before the closet opened.
“You can’t leave campus to get printing paper if your class starts in a few minutes, and it’s really easy to be in a hurry in the morning and leave home without it,” says Danielle Johnson, a freshman from Tazewell.
Johnson said the closet was filled in the beginning with donations from faculty and staff. Since then, students keep it stocked.
“Students are grateful for the closet. Most of them will replace whatever they take,” she said. For example, students may borrow a few sheets of paper and replace it with a ream (500 sheets).
Thus, students changed the name from “The Giving Closet” to the “Sharing Closet.”
Johnson will play a big role in managing the closet next year, but Seal is already planning to be an involved “Sharing Closet” alumnus.
“I do think the closet will be fine in the future. We have members that will step up to the plate next year and I know future students will be involved.
“I will be 100 percent involved. I will still donate items and participate in fund-raising activities on the campus,” he concluded.
He also believes the closet more than met its original goal of bringing the student body closer.
“I’m very proud to have attended this campus. The student body is ten times closer than at any other campus. Sometimes, you feel like a number at a big college. Here, you’re on a first-name basis with everybody.”
Any businesses with extra supplies that they would like to donate to the “Sharing Closet” may contact Bolton at (423) 851-4773.
In the photo: Walters State Claiborne County students this fall will find a new “Sharing Closet” filled with supplies and even snacks, courtesy of the 2012-13 Service Learning Club. From left, Kim Bolton, assistant dean of the campus, and Jessie Seal, club president, look on as Fran O’Connor, secretary at Walters State and freshman Danielle Johnson write the closet’s hours on a dry erase board.