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Crowd-Funded Endowment Aims To Fund Tech Pantry In Memory Of Founder

A group of Tech employees are trying to set up an endowment that would fund the campus food pantry indefinitely, in honor of a local resident.

Michelle Huddleston passed away October 21. She oversaw the food pantry. Director of Development for the College of Engineering Elizabeth Sofia helped start the crowd-funding drive. She said Huddleston was a one-of-kind individual.

“Phenomenal, an absolute extraordinary person,” Sofia said. “Trying not to get choked up here. I don’t have a single memory of her that wasn’t just incredibly joyful and positive and loving.”

The endowment has currently raised $8,935 of a $25,000 goal in two weeks. The 100-percent donation-funded effort would change the name of the pantry to the Michelle Huddleston Memorial Pantry. You can contribute to the endowment by going to the Crawford Alumni Facebook page and following the link.

Huddleston was a student at Tech when she helped build the pantry from the ground up in 2012. She obtained a Masters from the university and worked there as the Director of Housing for Residential Life. She oversaw the pantry over those years including making sure students were fed when they were quarantined during COVID and opened the pantry doors to the community at large after the 2020 tornado.

“She used this to service the community,” Sofia said. “It’s so much of who she was. She was such a driving force behind it that it’s just critical that we make sure that it’s sustainable especially in her memory.”

Sofia said this endowment is to her knowledge the first of its kind.

“The endowment process itself isn’t really that difficult,” Sofia said. “We do that a lot with scholarships. This is the first one of this nature that we are doing a crowd-funded type and using the endowment to honor an individual that was so close to campus, but Michelle was that kind of incredibly special person, and we wanted to find a way we can really honor her.”

Sofia said she hopes to see the endowment completely funded within the next month.

“If I have to go out and start fundraising in other ways, we’ll definitely meet this goal,” Sofie said. “It’s incredibly important that we honor her.”

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