Long-time Cats’ Cupboard volunteer aims to help people in her community

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Mary Kate Sutton keeps track of donations. Sutton has volunteered at food pantries and homeless shelters since high school and has always had a passion for fighting food insecurity and helping others in her community. (Photo courtesy of Mary Kate Sutton)

Mary Kate Sutton, senior in human development and family sciences, has volunteered at Cats’ Cupboard since September of 2017. Now, she is one of its undergraduate employees and works on revamping the volunteer program.

Sutton has volunteered at food pantries and homeless shelters since high school and has always had a passion for fighting food insecurity and helping others in her community.

“Cats’ Cupboard has opened up my eyes to how many resources there actually are to help people who do need food,” Sutton said. “It really is a unique outlook to see how many people are actually affected by food insecurity.”

Sutton has seen many students come in and out of Cats’ Cupboard and always tries to offer a helping hand.

“I’ve seen students come back and use the pantry, but I’ve also seen a good number of students come for the first time, so knowing that students are learning about us and using us as a resource always pushes me to want to do more,” she said. “Most students who are food insecure are struggling to make ends meet.”

However, Sutton said each person who comes to Cats’ Cupboard is more than just a hungry student.

“You don’t really know a person until you have that personal conversation with them,” she said. “You think everyone is able to have food in their life, which isn’t true. If I was coming into this role — if I had never been here before — it would definitely take some time to adjust.”

Kinsley Searles, junior in English, has worked with Sutton since fall 2020 and said she’s seen the impact Sutton made on the community.

“This semester she’s been working like crazy with Cats’ Cupboard, with her internship with them and also still working outside of that,” Searles said. “I really admire how much effort she puts into everything she does because I know that she really cares.”

Sutton said the relationships she has formed over the years at Cats’ Cupboard have only gotten stronger.

“All of the relationships that I have formed here have pushed me to be a better person and be more involved,” Sutton said. “I see what other people are doing and I think. ‘Kudos to you for being able to do that.'”

Sutton said there is one person who has kept her inspired and wanting to do more for her community.

“My mom is such an inspiration to me. I have three sisters, so she’s been very involved in our lives, and even raising four girls she was still able to volunteer places and be involved in our school,” Sutton said. “So, she really inspires me to think even if you think you’re too busy, there’s still time for other things, and if you want to make that impact you can still do it, you just have to put in the effort.”

Sutton is set to graduate this spring and will join Kansas State’s elementary education program in May.

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