Low-income UW-Madison students will be able to get daily necessities at no cost at the Badger Caring Closet, a new student organization opening in the spring semester.
Badger Caring Closet was formed by seven members of Enactus, a social entrepreneurship student organization. They have a room in the Lutheran Campus Ministry building that has clothes, hygiene products and school supplies available for students in need of these items.
Project Manager Chayce Cornette said the goal of the closet is to give students with financial instability items they need so they can focus on their studies instead of how they are going to buy something like a rain jacket.
“Little things add up and when you’re worrying about how you’re going to buy tampons or socks it is hard to focus on your education,” Cornette said. “Our goal is to ease the financial burden of the daily necessities so [students] can focus on their education and make that their goal.”
The group purchased items for the closet from thrift stores using money from a grant they were given. However, Cornette said they hope to obtain items through donations and use money raised through fundraising in the future.
The team worked with the Associated Students of Madison and modeled the Badger Caring Closet to be like The Open Seat, the food pantry on campus operated by student government. Cornette said they will have the same hours as the food pantry because the same students who utilize that resource will most likely also want to visit the closet.
“ASM is just food, but it’s easy to forget that there's so many things students who are struggling to pay rent or buy textbooks need in the day to day,” Cornette said.
According to Cornette, the closet is ready for students to use but it will not officially open until spring semester classes begin. When they do begin operating regular hours they will be open varying hours that are listed on their website on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Students who want to use the closet before they begin operating with regular hours can email the organization. Visitors must show their Wiscard or provide their student ID number and sign a confidentiality agreement when using the closet.
Cornette said the other focus of the project is to bring attention to the issue of financially unstable and homeless students.
“[The goal] is to raise awareness that this resource is out there … because it's one thing to have it but people need to know about it to use it,” Cornette said. “Financial instability on campus is something that is overlooked. I hope there's more of an awareness that this is a problem and it is happening.”