NYPIRG Opens Free Store to BC Students

The clothing shop as part of NYPIRG’s new free store./Courtesy of NYPIRG

By T’Neil Gooden 

 

   The New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG) Brooklyn opened a new free store on Feb. 7 for Brooklyn College students to assist with meals, clothing, and necessities.

   The store, located in Ingersoll Hall 1433, is full of free goods, ranging from business casual clothing to food supplies, to help take care of the welfare of BC students. Organizing for the store began in March 2023, garnering donations throughout the spring 2023 and fall 2023 semesters. Students are met with canned goods, shampoo, soap, deodorants, a clothing rack full of clothes, and other items that are free if needed. To the creators of the store, it will supplement students who are struggling to access necessities as they go about their college lives. 

   “All students deserve access to an education, food, clothing, and everything else they might need, so we thought the free store would be a good way for students to have access to any clothing or supplies they might require for free,” Brooklyn Darling, NYPIRG Project Coordinator, said.

   The push for a store full of free goods for students follows research released by the 2022 CUNY Student Experience Survey, which disclosed that a significant portion of CUNY students struggle to afford their basic needs. 

   “[The survey] said that 40% of CUNY students have experienced low to very low food insecurity during their time at CUNY,” Darling told The Vanguard. “We think that is just proof that students have so many expenses while they are in college: they have to pay for food, housing, tuition, maybe medical expenses, and helping out the family.”

   For BC students who are food and clothing insecure, finding their next meal and clothing takes precedence over focusing on their schoolwork. The organizers of the store hope that students will no longer have to choose between their academics and life necessities.  

   “Students should never need to decide between food, housing, medical bills, whatever it might be. We just want to make sure that students are given as many resources as possible so that they can not only make it through college but thrive through college,” Darling told The Vanguard. 

   The NYPIRG free store has made sure the store stays free by allowing students, faculty, and the community around Brooklyn College to donate.

   “A lot of our stuff is donated by students and faculty, a lot of the faculty offices are by our office, and they know that we have a free store so they are always bringing in bags of clothing and are very generous,” Darling said. “We have gotten a lot of donations from off-campus people who have just heard about the free store, from either other students or family members who helped out at the free store, they have also been very helpful with this stuff.” 

   The NYPIRG store is not only available to students, but faculty members as well. No matter the need, NYPIRG has the supplies, which include business suits for those conducting interviews. The goal of the free store is not only to provide items to students in need, but to also build relationships within the BC community.

   “It builds a sense of community at Brooklyn College as well, we want to make it a safe space so people can actually come and look at the items,” Victoria Perez, an NYPIRG intern and a psychology major at BC, said.

   “It is really great that so many people come together with the free store. We have seen people from different backgrounds and neighborhoods, and it is really good to see them come together for one cause,” Darling told The Vanguard. 

   The free store operates from 10am to 6pm Monday through Thursday and 10am to 3pm on Fridays. Anyone is welcome to look at, and take supplies that they may need.The free store will continue to be open for the rest of this semester, and NYPIRG will continue to take donations from students, faculty, and off-campus supporters. 

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