UF Student Goes Above and Beyond to Support Local Organizations
By Christi-Anne Weatherly
Sustainable UF Intern and Contributing Writer
When UF senior Lauren Bouskila found out that classes would not be returning from the online format this semester, she and a friend decided to use their leftover FlexBucks before they expired at the end of the semester.
Bouskila and her friend went to the POD Market to spend the almost $500 in FlexBucks, and realized just how much they could buy – and how much of an impact it could have.
The behavioral and cognitive neuroscience major began to partner with other fellow students to use FlexBucks to purchase food and supplies that could be donated to the homeless and other people in need in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bouskila coordinates donating the items to homeless shelters, food banks and other organizations that provide resources to vulnerable populations.
“I love doing this because I feel myself making a difference in the community, through support that brings us one step closer to meeting the needs of vulnerable populations in need of aid,” Bouskila said, “Making a difference in the world starts with making a difference.”
“Through support that brings us one step closer to meeting the needs of vulnerable populations in need of aid.”
Bouskila has also begun to collect donate-able items from students moving out of their dorms and apartments to give to organizations like GRACE Marketplace, whose mission is to end homelessness in Gainesville.
She’s collected from over 35 people so far, and expects more in the coming weeks. She’s taken everything from clothes and bedding sets, to nonperishable foods and unopened personal hygiene products.
She’s also donated items to healthcare workers for an initiative called Helping the Helpers, in partnership with her internship with NICAP (Neuromedicine Interdisciplinary Clinical and Academic Program).
Bouskila calls these donations “a small token of appreciation for our everyday heroes whose dedication, commitment and courage deserve our deepest gratitude and whose service is saving countless lives.”
“A small token of appreciation for our everyday heroes whose dedication, commitment and courage deserve our deepest gratitude and whose service is saving countless lives.”
“I’ve found myself growing more and more attached to this mission with each and every donation I’ve made, all of which have been rewarding beyond my ability to express with words,” Bouskila said.
If you have items you wish to donate to Bouskila, text her donation line at (954) 417-0129.
Or feel free to donate to any of these local organizations directly:
- GRACE Marketplace – Drop off items during normal business hours
- ESOL Closet – Accepting donations with certain restrictions – call 352-218-0836 for more information
- Outreach Thrift Store – Returned to normal business operations as of May 4th
- Alachua Habitat for Humanity Restore – Beginning May 9th, store will operate during normal business hours (open Tuesday-Saturday)
- Humane Society of North Central Florida Thrift Store – Donations by appointment only, email Paris@humanesocietyncfl.org