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Kansas City-area student group raising money for solar-powered community fridge

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Posted at 4:24 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 18:31:18-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Members of the Kansas City Art Institute Student Solidarity Network are hoping the community will pitch in for a good cause.

Sydney Smith, co-facilitator of KCAI SSN, said the group started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a solar-powered, community refrigerator.

The group hopes to donate the refrigerator to residents in the Southmoreland Neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri.

"Right now during the pandemic a lot of people are struggling in this neighborhood in particular," Smith said. "We have a really tenant-heavy population in this neighborhood, and a lot of the properties are not super well-maintained, and a lot of people are struggling just to pay their rent right now."

Smith said the group is hoping to raise $2,600 to buy the fridge and stock it with food. It will go in the Walnut People's Garden, a community garden located at 4201 Walnut Street in KCMO.

There is already a free food stand at the garden, which Smith said has been a big help for those living nearby.

Garden member Gabi Welsh said the new fridge will be a much-needed upgrade to the food stand, which doesn't allow some produce to stay fresh in the Kansas City heat.

"They can't really sit on the free stand for longer than a couple hours in the summer because they just completely wilt and are frankly not fun to eat," Welsh said.

Cullen Curtis, founder of KCAI SSN, said the fridge can serve as an example of the good that can happen when community members work together.

"For me it's about empowerment, like when you identify a problem it feels very empowering to come up with an actionable solution instead of just wishing," Curtis said.

The group will start construction to build a structure for the fridge as soon as they reach their fund-raising goal. They hope to have it up and running within a few months.