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Thursday, Apr 18, 2024
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Student-led campaign raises hundreds of dollars to help caf employee Takisha Smith

<p>Takisha Smith poses at her desk in front of the cafeteria at Mercer University. </p>

Takisha Smith poses at her desk in front of the cafeteria at Mercer University.

Takisha Smith, the ever-friendly worker at the front desk at Mercer’s cafeteria, has a habit of asking students how their day is going as they walk in to grab some food. Sam Figiel ‘25 is among the students who frequently ask about Smith’s day in return. Usually, her response is positive. But one day, Figiel said, she was feeling overwhelmed.

“I asked her how she was and she said, ‘I’m not doing so well,'” Figiel said. “My daughter is in the hospital with a baby, and I got four of her kids at home, and I’m struggling.”

At that moment, Figiel knew he had to do something. With experience from previous GoFundMe campaigns, he set one up with guarded hope that it would generate much-needed help for the Smith family. 

Figiel was surprised to find that he didn’t need to worry about the success of the campaign. As the days went by, the Mercer community continued to donate. 

The page’s goal is to raise $5,000, but given the early success of the fundraiser, Figiel said there is a chance to even surpass that amount. That money would go to help the Smith family with paying bills and for supplies for the newborn. At the time of publication, the fundraiser has amassed nearly $700 since it started Sept. 22.

What has been raised so far can be attributed to the outreach that was sparked by Mercer students who may not know Figiel, but they do know Smith. The link, along with earnest calls for donations, can be seen on students’ Instagram stories, which have spread the word precipitously.

Smith's warmth has never been lost on Figiel or anyone else who eats at the caf, for that matter.

“Everybody who knows her and goes to the caf loves her,” Figiel said.

Figiel hopes that the next step to helping Smith and her family is to partner with a campus organization, such as MerServe or MU Miracle. Those established organizations, he said, could generate enough traction that would bring the fundraiser even more publicity than it has now. 

If you are interested in donating but haven’t been able to yet, the GoFundMe will be open until the end of the semester. Smith said she and her daughter are very thankful for any contribution that allows her daughter to focus on what really matters in this critical time, her newborn son.

Gabriel Kopp

Gabriel Kopp '26 is majoring in Journalism and Law and Public Policy at Mercer University. He has written for The Cluster since he started at Mercer, and currently works as the Sports Editor. When he isn't studying, he enjoys going for runs and reading the New York Times.

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