Eagles Helping Eagles provides supportive resources to UWL students

Image retrieved from Eagles Helping Eagles homepage.

Image retrieved from Eagles Helping Eagles homepage.

Alison Obright, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Eagles Helping Eagles is a resource at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse for students in need of support. The service connects students with donated supplies like household goods, furniture, school supplies, and more. The program began development in 2019 and became operational in the summer of 2020.

“[Eagles Helping Eagles] is a resource for students that might have specific needs that can’t be met maybe through the Campus Threads or other outreach and emergency resources, like the food pantry, that we have already. So if a student needs a sheet or a blanket or a crockpot and those things aren’t available through one of the other emergency resources, we want to provide a vehicle to make a request – and then also the opportunity for our campus community to help a student in need,” said Financial Aid Director Louise Janke.

Students in need, or faculty and staff representatives on behalf of students in need, can access request forms through the UWL Emergency Resources webpage. The forms ask for the student’s name and email address, the requested items, the reason for the request, and the preferred methods for contact and delivery.

The economic success team serves as the initial contact point for request forms, said Janke. The team consists of members from the food pantry, It Makes Sense, the Financial Aid Office, Student Life, Residence Life, and other UWL departments, said Janke. “We come together and share what each of our units are doing in order to meet the needs of students with specific needs. So, we are trying just to learn from one another,” said Janke.

Donations from the campus community make the program possible, she said. The Eagles Helping Eagles website lists welcomed donation items. Janke said that requests that cannot be fulfilled with current supplies may be posted to the Campus Connection as a request to the larger UWL community.

Janke said her initial idea for the program was modeled after the La Crosse County For Goodness’ Sake program. The program allows La Crosse community members in need to post requests to the La Crosse Tribune. “We got to thinking about this and thought ‘you know maybe there are things on our campus that our community needs here, and they don’t have a vehicle to tell anybody,’” said Janke.

Financial Literacy Coordinator Amanda Gasper said space for storing donations is limited after a large community response after the program was announced. “I was in my vehicle driving around to peoples’ homes and picking things up so now I have things that are just sitting in my garage or in my office,” said Gasper.

Currently, donations are not needed, but updated requests will be posted to Campus Connection, said Gasper. “People are so giving and willing. They’re letting me know what they have and what they can donate so that’s really great,” said Gasper.

Gasper said the donations are what make this program unique compared to others on campus. “It’s involving probably more people than just a one-on-one talk. And there isn’t like a huge process. I think if you’re asking for money or if you’re in hard times and need a bill paid, there’s more of a process and paperwork. This is kind of a quick turnaround, a quick fill, and we don’t ask a bunch of questions. We’re just here to help someone,” said Gasper.

Overall, Gasper said the program has been a very positive experience. “I think it just shows the good in people. I’m a Christian and, you know, overall I just see the good in people more than the bad anyway. It’s just beautiful. I think there are more good people than bad, and it just shows itself over and over again,” she said.

Gasper said there may be some emotional barriers to requesting items through Eagles Helping Eagles. “I know it takes a little bit of gumption to ask, or, you know, maybe you have to humble yourself or throw away the pride for a minute because no one ever wants to do that. But, it’s a great way to get the things students need in their hands quickly,” said Gasper.

Several items have already been requested by students this semester, said Gasper. “We know life is hard, it isn’t always easy, and when you are a college student you don’t always have the ability to pay or afford things that you need. So it [Eagles Helping Eagles] is a way to ask for items that would help you get by or help in certain situations,” she said.

“We just want students to be successful and if they are spending their time worrying about something they need, that’s something we wanted to help with. Because at the end of the day they need to focus on their academics and not something else,” said Janke.

For more information, visit the Eagles Helping Eagles program page.