WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — When the threat of COVID-19 closed restaurant dining rooms, Wichita Falls resident Ken Van Loh worried about those who were dependent on tips for a big part of their livelihood.
Then he wondered about those who worked for businesses that had to shut down, and others who would fall through the safety net of a steady income.
Because he lives near Midwestern State University and walks near the campus, students were among the first who came to his mind.
Even though most students have left the Midwestern State University campus to finish the semester remotely due to the COVID-19 heath crisis, some students are still on campus and in the area. Their needs continue.
They have jobs that they cannot afford to leave or they have lost their jobs. Some students lack the finances to travel home or to find alternate housing arrangements. Some may even lack the technical and digital access to take classes online. Some can’t afford food.
“The COVID-19 crisis has created a significant financial hardship such that some students can no longer afford basic life essentials such as food, shelter, and utilities,” Dean of Students Matthew Park said.
To help students during this time, a new fund has been added to two existing funds to create the Supporting Mustang Students in Crisis assistance program, which allows students access to short-term financial and direct food security help.
The Supporting Mustangs Students in Crisis assistance program consists of:
The MSU Texas COVID-19 Student Emergency Fund: Limited emergency financial support to currently enrolled students who are unable to meet essential expenses such as housing, utilities, prescriptions, food, etc., resulting from a financial hardship encountered as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic such that their capability to continue coursework is in jeopardy.
The Canan Food Security Program Fund: Due to the generosity of the donors, all donations to this fund will be matched 1:1 up to $100,000.
Mustangs Food Pantry Fund: Direct food aid from the on-campus food pantry.
“Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Van Loh and other donors contributing to these important emergency aid programs, students in need have a resource available to help them survive these unprecedented times and continue the pursuit of their college education,” Park said.
The Kimbell family of Burk Royalty Company also saw the immediate need and felt moved to contribute to the Mustangs Pantry.
“We wanted to help students stay supplied with food and other basic needs,” Stan Kimbell said. “By helping students finish their education, we hope that someday, they’ll be in a position to help others.”
Van Loh donated to all three funds, with the bulk designated to the COVID-19 Student Emergency Fund.
Like the Kimbells, he doesn’t consider his gift a donation; he considers it an investment. He tells of a longtime friend who was stationed with the British military in Barbados years ago where he met two bright Barbadian men.
But at that time, any education beyond high school wasn’t in their plans. The friend helped them come to the U.S. and with their college educations, calling it an investment.
One became a prominent bone surgeon, the other an MIT-educated electrical engineer.
“Any time you can help a student further their education, you’re investing in all of our futures,” Van Loh said.
Visit the MSU Texas website to donate online, or mail donation payable to Midwestern State University, Office of Gift Processing, 3410 Taft Blvd., Wichita Falls, TX 76308.