By Steve Harmic, Penn State DuBois
DUBOIS – Some Penn State DuBois students have used a class project to start a support effort for local women in need and achieved surprising results. Students Brittany Meckley and Ian Claycomb devised the idea of Support the Unsupported and launched their efforts in November.
For the entire month, they collected more than 200 new or gently-used bras. They have now donated the bras to the Salvation Army, which will then distribute them in packages with other clothing items to area women who may not have the money to buy such items on their own.
“People don’t donate things like bras,” Claycomb said. “People don’t think about things like that, but they are things that people need.”
Those who are on the front lines fighting for the less fortunate couldn’t agree more with Meckley and Claycomb. Major Robin Maddock of the Salvation Army Worship and Service Center of DuBois received the donation. She said, “That’s an item we don’t often get, they are not typically donated, but we do serve a population where it certainly is a blessing. We have women, young and old, who can benefit. These are a necessity, and I think this is very thoughtful.”
Maddock said the timing of the donation of the bras was just right. It took place between October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the Christmas season, when many women are not thinking about themselves, even if they are in need. She said, “With Christmas around the corner, [more than] 200 women will benefit from this generosity.”
Support the Unsupported all started in the classroom as a project for the Intro to Women’s Studies course, taught by instructor Jackie Atkins. The course focuses on women’s issues, and how women have overcome struggles to succeed.
“One of the projects my students do is what I call an activism project,” Atkins explained. “I have students doing a variety of things, from hosting a spaghetti dinner to support a food pantry, to making informational pamphlets.”
Atkins’ students were able to choose their own project, so Meckley and Claycomb decided to partner up to do something that no one else had ever done.
“I wanted to support women in a way you don’t usually see,” Meckley said.
That voyage into uncharted waters paid off with unexpected results. Claycomb said, “I didn’t think we were going to get as many as we did. I’m surprised, but it’s good.”
Meckley agreed, saying, “I’m shocked. I never thought it would take off the way it did. It just got out into the community more than I thought it would.”
In the end, those 200 bras would have cost around $600. Meckley and Claycomb said area Wal-Mart stores were enormously generous in donating a large number of bras from their stores. The remainder came from members of the campus community who dropped the garments in collection boxes on campus.
The students say this initial campaign saw enough success that it will likely become an annual event.