Sometimes the little things matter. Sometimes we just need to know that someone cares.

That’s why the Office of Institutional Diversity’s (OID) College Cares initiative is holding a teddy bear drive for the Shifa Clinic, a free clinic in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, that serves uninsured residents of the greater Charleston area. The bears will go to children served by the Shifa Clinic’s pediatric clinic. This is the third community project launched under OID’s College Cares initiative since 2017.

CofC student Merrill Coulter works in the Shifa Clinic’s pediatric clinic. (Photos provided)

Kimberly Gailliard, program coordinator for OID, says the clinic, which focuses on inclusion of underserved patients, has already given to the College of Charleston community as a partner with the College’s public health program as well as Student Health Services. So, it just made sense to give back to the clinic.

“The whole goal of the College Cares initiative is to connect the College of Charleston community to Charleston’s larger minority community,” says Gailliard. “Offering support to the Shifa Clinic seemed like a perfect fit.”

Since 2015, the clinic has offered internships for public health majors to gain clinical experience prior to graduation, says Louise Ackerman, adjunct professor of public health and internship coordinator for the public health program. To date, 10 students have worked at the clinic through this partnership. Alumna Hoda Mabrouk ’17 now works as the clinic’s volunteer and food pantry coordinator. The Shifa Clinic will host three more CofC students this spring. The clinic also takes patient referrals from the College’s Student Health Services for underinsured and uninsured students needing ongoing medical care.

“I just really loved being a part of something big that really helps make a difference in people’s lives,” says student Jordin Thompson, a senior majoring in public health who is among the students who have worked at the clinic.

Gailliard says OID also chose the clinic as a way to engage more students within the STEM fields on issues of diversity. And issues of limited access to healthcare for underserved and minority communities, something many students can relate to, Gailliard says, was a good avenue to achieve that goal.

“One thing we’ve discovered is that we’re more successful in engaging students in issues of diversity and inclusion when our programs are tied to topics they care about,” says Gailliard.

OID’s goal is to deliver 200 teddy bears to the clinic this spring. Members of the campus community may support the initiative by dropping a teddy bear off at one of the following locations: Institutional Diversity, Honors College, Center for Civic Engagement, Women’s and Gender Studies, Academic Affairs, Student Health Services and the School of Sciences and Mathematics. The drive will run through March 29, 2019.

Featured image: CofC students Jasmine Jenkins and Kayla Hess work with alumna Husna Siddique ’16 to prepare for the Shifa Clinic’s “Pamper Me Pink” event.