Students at William & Mary raising thousands to help struggling campus dining room workers

Posted at 12:08 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 20:10:06-05

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Each semester, several thousand students at the College of William & Mary enter the campus's dining halls.

"I love my job and I love the students. They make it all worthwhile with their smiles, they come in, they sit and talk to us," said Stacey Smallwood, who works at Sadler Center on campus.

Smallwood is one of the dining room workers students were used to seeing on a daily basis for hot eats and cool treats. She and other dining room workers are employed and contracted by Sodexo.

"Before the pandemic I was working 50 to 60 hours a week, sometimes more than that. Business was booming, it was great," she said.

Then the campus became desolate as students switched to virtual learning.

"They were going two months without pay, and we knew that would hurt a lot of them," said Zoe Le Menestrel, a recent William & Mary graduate.

More than 100 cafeteria and dining room employees were laid off, with hours cut and shifts slashed for the remaining employees. Le Menestrel knew she had to serve up a side of hope.

"They are so amazing and the college absolutely would not work without them," she said.

She and and other students started the William & Mary Dining Workers Fund and have raised more than $15,000 with a GoFundMe to help supplement the workers' income.

"The things the students have put together for us is truly a blessing, and I think that a lot of people need to know about it. A light needs to be shined upon them," Smallwood said.

"We will be able to provide money to 110 of them this time," Le Menestrel said.

This isn't the first time students have come to the rescue. Back in April, dozens of workers were furloughed and students stepped up to give thousands to them, too.

"It is such a blessing, so beautiful, to see human beings to do something for someone else," Smallwood said. "They didn't have to. They are young, they don't have a lot of money, they can go party, but instead of that they were worried about dining workers."

Plating up a little bit of positivity during this pandemic.

A spokesperson with William & Mary also commended the students, saying, "The support efforts we are seeing from our students are not surprising. William & Mary is a close-knit community, and our students are known for their caring nature exemplified through their volunteerism throughout our community, across the country and abroad. The students’ generosity is inspiring.

We are working closely with Sodexo and know they are doing what they can to support their employees during the pandemic."

To donate to the GoFundMe, click here.