SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) expanded its efforts to help serve the community with the official ribbon cutting for the Rex’s Pantry Garden. Before a standing-room-only crowd, AIC President Vincent Maniaci led the festivities and thanked the college’s community partners for their support of the garden.
Rex’s Pantry was launched in December 2017 in an effort to provide the less fortunate in Springfield with hot meals, canned food, and other living necessities. Since its founding, Rex’s Pantry has served more than 2,000 meals and collected thousands of pounds of canned goods. Rex, a yellowjacket, is the AIC mascot.
The Rex’s Pantry Garden, located on the AIC campus in the heart of the city, is the newest addition to the Rex’s Pantry initiative. The first harvest will include tomatoes and pumpkins. The tomatoes will be distributed to neighborhood residents, who often do not have the resources to purchase fresh produce. Pumpkins will be given to local children during the Halloween season.
Until one month ago, the Rex’s Pantry Garden was a long-standing vacant lot, but the plot was transformed by the C&W Services grounds crew at the college. Local businesses also donated to the creation of the garden, including Associated Building Wreckers, C&W Services, Capone’s Pool Water, GMH Fence Co., Go Graphix, Ondrick Natural Earth, and Wallace Tree Service.
“I am proud to work with such an altruistic group of colleagues who have collaborated through Rex’s Pantry, and now the Rex’s Pantry Garden, to help others,” said Robert Cole, AIC’s vice president for Marketing and Communications and Rex’s Pantry founder Robert Cole.
Student-athletes and representatives from the AIC basketball, ice hockey, rugby, and wrestling teams, along with student groups — including IMPACT, a residential community for AIC students in pursuit of leadership experiences in and outside the classroom, and the Student Nurses Assoc. — have given of their time to support Rex’s Pantry by serving hot meals throughout the academic year. AIC staff and student volunteers will maintain the garden throughout the growing season.