Kameron Ripple honors grandfather’s memory in the Triton Pantry

Kameron Ripple, a junior engineering major, volunteered on a Triton Pantry cellular market during his freshman semester at UMSL, which resulted in him becoming his first part-time employee. Volunteering with his grandfather inspired Ripple to dig into the pantry. (Photos by August Jennewein)

Most days, between the ages of 10 and 14, Kameron Ripple skipped the bus after school. Instead, he would ride with his grandfather.

Ripple appreciated the trips the couple took to a pantry near his childhood home in Imperial, Missouri, to volunteer. As soon as he stepped in the door, three elderly women in the pantry greeted Ripple warmly and gave him a list of items to keep on the shelves.

The experience of filling shelves and distributing groceries to those in need with his grandfather, Roger, had a lasting impact on Ripple. This led him to enroll during his freshman semester at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

“I always have fond memories of it,” Ripple said of volunteering when he was younger. “My grandfather has since passed away, but I always have these memories close by. That inspired me to volunteer for the mobile pantry at some point. “

An afternoon volunteer work on a cellular market in 2019 resulted in the Junior Engineering Major becoming the first part-time student in the Triton Pantry. Robin Kimberlin, Director of Student Advocacy & Support, remembers the day well and remembers that everyone was impressed by Ripple’s enthusiasm for the job.

“He volunteered at this event and was a smiley face, friendly – just so engaging,” she said.

Despite having a knack for service, Ripple wasn’t sure what to pursue in college. A high school teacher suggested engineering based on his aptitude for math, and Ripple applied and was accepted into the UMSL / Washington University’s Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program.

In the middle of his first semester at UMSL, a campus email drew Ripple’s attention to an impending mobile communications market. He decided to get involved, even if he could only make it for the last shift of the day.

“I jumped in,” he said. “As soon as I got there, I helped out wherever I could, running boxes and spending everything I could wherever I could.”

At the time, he viewed this as a once in a lifetime opportunity for volunteers, unaware that the Triton Pantry was operating regularly on campus in addition to cell phone markets and other events. Kimberlin said the pantry happened to be hiring its first paid part-time job shortly thereafter, and she immediately thought of Ripple.

Cameron Ripple

Kameron Ripple performs important tasks in the Triton Pantry, e.g. These include receiving products on delivery days, stocking shelves, completing online orders from students, and assisting walk-ins.

“Someone reached out from the Triton pantry and asked me if I would be interested in a part-time position in the actual pantry,” said Ripple. “I thought I would check it out and see if it suits me well.”

It was and he was hired, although some important information about the position was missing.

“It was really funny because when I told him what he was going to pay, he said, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know I was going to get paid. I thought I would volunteer for the rest of the year, ”said Kimberlin with a laugh.

The Triton Pantry typically attracts social work students for volunteering and internship experience, which makes Ripple’s attitude as an engineering student a little unusual. However, the work clearly suits him.

Ripple spends a few days a week in the pantry doing key functions like receiving products on delivery days, stocking shelves, completing online student orders, and assisting walk-ins. Now he has paved the way for another part-time worker as well.

“I find it very fulfilling,” he said. “People come in all the time and just to be able to help them a little is fulfilling. You can say that people are really touched by what we do. It really helps, and I love being able to. In this way I am helping the community. It might not be the greatest, but it works for me. “

It’s a feeling that reflects the memory of his grandfather.

“My grandfather was always a very charitable person,” said Ripple. “That’s one thing I always remember him. He would help anyone he could, comfortable or not, he would go out of his way. Even when he needed help himself, he always made sure that it went both ways. “

If you are a food insecurity UMSL student or know any other student, the Triton Pantry is here to help: https://www.umsl.edu/studentadvocacy/triton-pantry/index.html

This summer, the Triton Pantry is open on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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