Planning ahead for rainy days

Residential Life is ready to help students who unexpectedly find themselves in need.

By Theo Schwinke

Beth Lauchstaedt stands in the care closet.
Lauchstaedt was inspired to create the care closet when snowstorms shut down campus last winter. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

In times of crisis, it’s easy overlook the small, mundane details that give our lives normalcy.

Now, Mizzou students who find themselves in tight spots have an ally in their corner.

The Department of Residential Life has created a “care closet” to help students in need with basic, day-to-day items. The initiative is led by Beth Lauchstaedt, assistant director for student care and outreach.

Lauchstaedt was inspired to create the care closet when snowstorms shut down campus last winter.

“I spoke with a number of students who were having troubles making it to their homes due to the weather conditions,” Lauchstaedt said. “I imagine it would be very stressful, being unable to get home and not having the basic necessities for your temporary housing.”

To help meet students’ needs, Lauchstaedt worked with student staff members to create the care closet from a 150-square-foot office in Pershing Hall.

The closet has a wide variety of items, including refrigerators, microwaves, pots and pans, fans, linens, toiletries and hygiene products. Durable items are returned to the care closet, cleaned and sanitized when no longer needed.

The closet has been used on at least a dozen occasions. Recently, Lauchstaedt has delivered clothes, toiletries, and other items to students in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 exposure.

“If they ask for it and I can get hold of it, I will get it to them,” Lauchstaedt said.

Contributions from Residential Life, the Student Fee Capital Improvement Committee and donations from individuals have helped get the closet operational.

Students who need temporary supplies from the care closet can reach out to the Mizzou Care Team or their resident advisors.