Free Market Fair

During Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, PennWest California hosted its annual Free Market


Andrew Havens

Free Market

Andrew Havens, Staff Writer

Clothes, hygiene products, silverware and more lined the corridor of the Natali Student Center on Tuesday, Nov. 15, free for any and all students walking through. The yearly Free Market Fair had kicked off, and students lined up in droves to fill their book bags with the essentials.

The event was a resounding success, according to Sophomore Psychology major Natalie Egan.

Originally organized by the PennWest Pantry (previously the CALU Cupboard) in 2021, this year had more hands involved, with booths from CUTV, Cal Catholic, New Life, and Student Government, and others. However, the main draw was the myriad of free items available for the taking, which many students indulged in.

Egan was surprised at the amount of students, given that there was not much buzz about the event on campus.

“Good turnout, there were a lot of students,” she said. “I thought that there was actually a pretty great turnout for the event, considering not a lot of people knew about it.”

“I’m not sure really, I don’t think there’s enough advertising for events like this,” Egan said. “But I do think this campus is very dedicated to helping those that are in need of resources.”

As busy students passed by with a new jacket or toothbrush, Egan would go on to talk about the importance of events like these, saying that the embarrassment felt by some underprivileged students is a barrier that needs to be hurdled.

“This event is important because not a lot of people up here want to ask for resources or even just cannot afford to buy them,” she said. “So this was a good opportunity for them to get all of the necessities that they need.”

Associate Director of Student Development, Diane Hasbrouck, has played a pivotal role in setting up the event, and gives credit to the PennWest pantry for their efforts.

“Last semester, the student staff in the volunteer office thought of the event after there was a need from students for more household items,” Hasbrouck said. “We just hope all of our services and events through the PennWest Pantry will help, no matter their need.”

Hasbrouck, who hopes to continue this event every year, says that students are never ashamed to admit when they need common items, and events like these are great for those students to get access to essentials like deodorant, lip balm, shower gel, or feminine hygiene products.

“We have not seen students ashamed of taking any of the items that have been offered,” Hasbrouck said. “The students are always excited to see what items we have collected. Our intention is for everything to go, but whatever we can’t give out is stored away for next time.”

Hasbrouck said that she loves seeing students find exactly what they were looking for; it is great motivation to continue this event in the future.

“I always enjoy when students benefit from the program and services we offer,” Hasbrouck said. “I feel there’s more to do to help our students, but we’re always committed.”