All posts by Chris Demmons

Donations Collected for Hurricane Michael Victims

Following the devastation of Hurricane Michael, St. Petersburg College sprang into action to lend a hand to communities affected by the hurricane. On Friday, October 19, more than 1,000 pounds of donations were loaded onto the Titan team bus which is heading to Tallahassee.

This relief supply drive is the result of a collaboration between Student Life, SPC Athletics, the Social and Behavioral Science Career and Academic Community, and the Center for Civic Engagement. The donations were collected at every St. Petersburg College Campus from Allstate to Tarpon Springs. The supplies included tarps, bottled water, non-perishable food, diapers, and hygiene supplies. They came by the car and cart load throughout the day. The supplies will be given to Tallahassee Community College at the Women’s Basketball Jamboree.  From there the supplies will be distributed to the hardest hit communities in Northern Florida.

Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Center for Civic Engagement played a key role in organizing the donation drive. Student Life and Leadership pitched in to collect the supplies on each campus location. Faculty and staff brought the supplies to St. Petersburg Gibbs Campus, and helped load up the bus. Student athletes and athletics staff will unload the bus in Tallahassee.

Serving the community is a core value at St. Petersburg College. Students, faculty, and staff have volunteered at the St. Petersburg Free Clinic food pantry, and Habitat for Humanity.  Last year they collected supplies for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. They brought their experience in organizing that supply drive, and their experiences in receiving aid after Hurricane Irma with them as they organized this donation drive.

“This is just the beginning,” said St. Petersburg College Athletic Director Davie Gill.

Hurricane Michael brought unprecedented devastation to North Florida. Gill noted that college faculty, staff, and students relied on help from others during last year’s Hurricane Irma, and that now it is the college community’s turn to help others. He hopes to organize a second donation drive for those affected by Hurricane Michael soon.

“It’s about people helping people,” Gill said.

College Staff Gives Back at the Free Clinic

Photo of volunteers at the St. Pete Free Clinic

Last February, volunteers from St. Petersburg College kicked off 2017 by packing enough weekend lunches for 800 kids in need. Near the close of the year in December, volunteers returned to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic to make a difference again.

Being part of the community by helping our community

On Friday, December 1, volunteers sorted through 3,000 pounds of food to ensure freshness. The food is part of the clinic’s food bank program that helps more than 60,000 families in need every month. From packed lunches for kids to take home on the weekends, to providing a monthly food parcel to Tampa Bay seniors, volunteers at the Free Clinic are making a big difference.

The 18 volunteers made quick work sorting the stack of dry and canned goods. One volunteer was Tonya Williams, an accessibility coordinator at St. Petersburg College.

“They said it was three thousand pounds, but it didn’t feel like it. It was just fun helping the community.”

People need the Free Clinic’s help this holiday season.

In Pinellas County, 150,000 people were hungry or food insecure. One in four are children.  The St. Petersburg Free Clinic, almost entirely run by volunteers and two full-time staff members, offers food, shelter and health care to needy community members. They also offer resume assistance, and they provide loaner bikes and bus passes for those just starting a new job.

When the volunteers finished sorting, they took a tour of the clinic food bank, led by the Clinic’s Program Assistant Monica Brimm.

There are many ways to get involved with the Clinic:

  • Volunteer
  • Spread the Word
  • Host a Food Drive
  • Pledge Your Birthday
  • Become a Helping Hand
  • Donate Funds
  • Give Food

Check the website for details on how you can contribute any of the above actions. You can also connect with the Clinic on or

SPC Volunteers Build Homes with Habitat Pinellas

SPC students volunteer to build a home with Habitat Pinellas

Students, faculty, and staff from St. Petersburg College’s Midtown and Downtown Campuses helped make a difference for some Tampa Bay families on Sept. 22 when they dedicated a day to  volunteering with Habitat for Humanity Pinellas in Clearwater.

The build included two houses right next door to each other, and students had the opportunity to see a finished Habitat home across the street.

The Habitat staff were happy to see St. Petersburg College students, as they were short on volunteers that day. Staff also helped support students as they learned how to use the tools of the trade. They worked with them, showing them step-by-step how to get the job done.

“Students were shoulder to shoulder building a house,” said Tara Newsom, one of the faculty on site. “From nail guns to insulation, SPC helped literally put up the walls of a home, readying it for a new family to start a new life.”

Students originally planned to help Habitat Pinellas as part of the 9/11 Day of Service, but were forced to reschedule by Hurricane Irma. The day is one of three annual days set aside for giving back to the community. The college also encourages students, faculty, and staff to volunteer for Martin Luther King Day and on Nelson Mandela Day.

“SPC students have a culture of service. They are community leaders, mothers, fathers, and committed neighbors. Students take time out of their busy lives because it feels good to do good,” Newsom said.

St. Petersburg College student Diego Martinez was one of ten students who volunteered for the build. He said that working with Habitat was a wonderful experience, and that he learned a lot from the Habitat for Humanity Pinellas staff.

“By volunteering, you create a sense of a more unified community by giving, contributing and helping other people,” Martinez said.


Vote on August 30th in the Florida Primary!

Deborah Clark

Sample ballots for the 2016 Florida primary election are available from the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark!

Sample ballots can be found in the August 11th edition of The Weekly Challenger, the August 19th edition of the Tampa Bay Times, and on The sample ballots will show all races, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, and nonpartisan. It also includes races that will only appear on actual ballots in select precincts. These ballots are a great way for voters to familiarize themselves with candidates running in the primary.

The Florida primary will take place on August 30th. Florida is a closed primary state. To vote in the a party’s primary you must have registered before the August 1st deadline and be registered with that party. All registered voters are eligible to vote on the nonpartisan school board, judicial, and proposed constitutional amendment four. Voters may find their precinct on their voter identification card, or on the Supervisor of Elections’s website. The 2016 election is an important one for the state of Florida with the entire senate up for election.

If you have not registered to vote, there is still time to register before the general election. The deadline to register is October 11th.

SPC volunteers help the needy

volunteers at free clinic

St. Petersburg College student volunteers are working hard in the community to help feed Pinellas families. The college’s Office of Volunteer Services in partnership with the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement help connect students, faculty, and staff with community organizations that help the hungry.

Volunteers making a difference

Last year SPC students, faculty and staff collected more than five thousand pounds of food to stock local food pantries. They also helped with the Pack a Sack program which provides weekend food for more than 500 hungry children in the community. SPC volunteers have also worked with food pantries like The Kind Mouse which serves over three hundred kids per week. Here are a few of the volunteers that are making a difference in Tampa Bay.

SPC faculty member Dr. Willie Felton serves on the board of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. The clinic maintains a food pantry, and serves dinner six nights a week. The clinic serves as the largest emergency food distributor in Pinellas County, providing food to 65 partner agencies a week, and distributing more than three million pounds of food per week. Dr. Joseph Smiley, Dean of Social Sciences and Human Services, serves as a director at the Safehouse Food Pantry in Clearwater.

Volunteer Coordinator Yalonda Tearett says it is baffling to learn about student hunger when there are community resources available. “Often, an individual is denied state or federal agency’s service due to specific requirements or grapples with requesting assistance altogether,” she said. “There must be a better way for our students to gain access to placing food on their families’ tables and allow them to focus on their college studies. The fight to eliminate hunger must continue until our households, communities, and the nation are no longer struggling to satisfy a basic need – food!”

Learn more about efforts to fight hunger in Pinellas on the St. Petersburg College news blog.

SPC’s Heart of Service Veteran Volunteer Event

SPC's Heart of Service Veteran Volunteer Event

St. Petersburg College’s Veterans Services and The Center for Civic Learning & Community Engagement would like to thank everyone who donated to the Heart of Service Veteran Volunteer Event at All College Day. Thanks to their efforts the event was a huge success.

Making a difference for Tampa Bay veterans

More than $3,500 worth of supplies for the Bay Pines Veterans Hospital. These supplies will be distributed to veterans making the transition from homelessness to permanent housing. Faculty, staff and students worked together to package the supplies. The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that nearly 50,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. The Heart of Service event was an opportunity to give back to those who have given so much.

SPC’s Heart of Service

This was made possible by the hard work of the staff, faculty and students. Giving back to the community is an important part of the college culture. On behalf of SPC’s Veterans Services and and the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, thanks to all who took part.