Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass libraries raise money for Student Care and Emergency Response Fund

SCERF remains an essential resource for students facing financial hardship due to COVID-19
(Collegian file photo)

The Purple Hair Librarian Fundraiser, organized by University of Massachusetts libraries, raised over $5,000 for the Student Care and Emergency Response Fund to aid students effected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Student Care and Emergency Response Fund is a year-round program managed by the Dean of Students office, which supports undergraduate students’ basic needs who are experiencing financial hardship. SCERF provides funds to students to cover expenses such as “food and housing, medical and basic health needs, childcare, being an international student (such as visas and travel to get back home), caring for a disabled or sick parent and technology needed for online learning,” according to the Student Care and Emergency Response Fund MinuteFund website.

“The $5,000 raised by the library minute fund is an integral piece of our ongoing work to support students,” said Student Support Coordinator at the Dean of Students Office Charity O’Connor. “During a typical year, many students are impacted by food, financial and housing insecurity. These circumstances have of course become heightened for many in the wake of COVID-19, so having additional funds to add to SCERF allows us to help that many more students.”

Student Success and Outreach Librarian Annette Vadnais, better known as Purple Hair Librarian, says “shave the date” when organizing this fundraiser for SCERF – Vadnais would shave her hair if they met their goal by April 13 at noon. Raising $5,344, Vadnais shaved her famous purple hair on video on the UMass Libraries Facebook.

“I really love my job and UMass students. I really treasure my identity as the [email protected],” said Vadnais. “When all this happened, I felt so helpless and wanted to do something for the students. I almost felt like I couldn’t be the Purple Hair Librarian without being around the students.”

Although the end of the UMass Libraries MinuteFund Campaign has passed, everyone is encouraged to donate to SCERF here year-round, but especially now when SCERF is seeing increased demand on their funds as a result of the coronavirus. Undergraduates can apply for a microgrant, partially funded by the Student Care and Emergency Response Fund here.

“There are many other ways that community members can support SCERF aside from donating, such as sharing about SCERF on social media or referring friends who might benefit from it,” said O’Connor.

Vadnais organized the MinuteFund with the help of Assistant Director of Library Annual Giving and Donor Relations Kim Fill, and Libraries Marketing and Outreach Assistant Lauren Weiss. They hope the money raised will help students facing financial hardship and encourage staff who may not know how to help to donate to SCERF.

“SCERF is important because there are very few funding sources that support students’ basic needs,” said O’Connor. “It is incredibly difficult for students to be able to learn and fully engage in the UMass community if they are experiencing food or housing insecurity, so SCERF is an important piece of a larger support network that we try to connect students with in order to facilitate safety, security and success.”

Leigh Appelstein can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @Lappelstein.

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