June 30, 2021

From pandemic-related shutdowns to a historic winter storm, the past year and a half hasn’t been easy. Millions of Americans lost their jobs and experienced food insecurity, while heavy snow and electricity loss led to billions of dollars in damages to homes, pipes and possessions. 

But in dark times of greatest need, Americans’ generosity shines brightest. In a year when many were forced to cut back on expenses, U.S. citizens opened their wallets with renewed conviction to help others. In 2020, charitable giving rose to the new height of $471 billion, a 5.1% increase from 2019, according to Giving USA’s report. The Association of Fundraising Professionals saw an 18.5% increase in new donors, and in one day alone, Americans donated $2.47 billion for Giving Tuesday, a 25% increase from 2019’s event. 

It’s no surprise that Aggies were among the givers. Texas A&M University has always upheld selfless service and the importance of giving back, and these values were on full display during the past year. Read on to learn some of the ways Aggies stood together to make a difference. 
 

The 12th Can  

The 12th Can aided 1,724 individuals facing food insecurity in 2020.

When Texas A&M students, faculty and staff experienced higher rates of food insecurity during pandemic shutdowns, the student-run campus food pantry, the 12th Can, lived up to its namesake by being ready to help. But in the face of increased demand, it needed additional assistance. In response, Aggies stepped up and donated 3,524 pounds of food during a 15-day drive last April. 

Since then, generosity has continued to pour in. In a little less than 14 months, Aggies gave $43,900 to the food pantry, more than a 1,200% increase from 2018 and 2019 donations combined. Thanks to this support, the 12th Can served 1,724 clients in 2020.  

“We are immensely grateful for the countless Aggies who have donated funds and non-perishable goods,” said Julianna Cruz ’22, executive director of the 12th Can. “We could not have continued our operations throughout this past year without our community’s consistent and unwavering support.” 

 



Want to help the 12th Can combat food insecurity? Give to the pantry using the button below. 

 

 

Counseling and Psychological Services 

Aggies Reaching Aggies teaches students to recognize warning signs of suicide among their peers while providing support and referrals for mental health services.

Amid increased uncertainty, isolation and financial struggles, students experienced greater stress and anxiety, but they didn’t have to face it alone; Texas A&M’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) was only a call or click away. Throughout 2020, CAPS offered remote consultations, online resources and continued access to HelpLine, an after-hours crisis intervention hotline.  

Prompted by this increased need for mental health services, CAPS announced a new suicide-prevention program, Aggies Reaching Aggies, last year and quickly received more than $6,200 in donations through Texas A&M’s Spirit of Giving crowdfunding platform. The program, which launched in January, trains students to be peer gatekeepers who can recognize and refer someone at risk for suicide. Through Aggies’ generosity, the program has already trained 122 students to help peers who are struggling. 

“Receiving financial support from so many people has been incredibly meaningful and empowering for our volunteers,” said Dr. Santana Simple, assistant director of CAPS’ Suicide Awareness and Prevention Office. “Many volunteers feel they are making a significant difference in helping their fellow students understand the complexity and difficulty someone faces when they are struggling with suicidal thoughts.” 
 

You can play a role in meeting students’ mental health needs by giving to CAPS through the button below.

 

 

Disaster Relief Funds  

After hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria struck the Gulf of Mexico, the Texas A&M University Disaster Relief Fund helped Aggies recover their homes and livelihoods.

When unexpected financial hardships left many wondering how they would make ends meet, Aggies jumped into action. Last spring, the Texas A&M Foundation and divisions of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs repurposed the Texas A&M University Disaster Relief Fund—originally created to provide aid following hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria—to support Aggies during the pandemic. Through the fund, donors provided more than $58,400 to Texas A&M employees and more than $728,900 to undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. students. These one-time funds helped students with moving costs, food insecurity and lost jobs. 

The February 2021 Texas winter storm brought a similar show of solidarity. During a 12-day crowdfunding partnership with The University of Texas, Aggies raised more than $73,000 to assist Texas A&M students facing property damage or reduced income. 

“The occurrence of a natural disaster has a debilitating effect on large numbers of students that far exceeds existing hardship support,” said Dr. Daniel Pugh, former vice president for student affairs. “Thanks to Aggies everywhere, our students secured those bridge funds needed to make ends meet. The selfless service displayed by those who stepped forward to assist was remarkable. Living out the Aggie core values is a calling and, time and time again, we see Aggies responding to the call.” 
 

By giving to Texas A&M’s Disaster Relief Fund today, you can help the university continue to meet students’ unexpected financial needs, whether it’s the lingering economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic or a future natural disaster.

 

 

Interested in joining other Aggies in giving back? Contact David Wilkinson ’87 through the form below. 

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