COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The custodial staff at Texas A&M works tirelessly to keep spaces clean and safe throughout the year. Two Aggie organizations are putting together a way to say, 'Thank you.' The groups are looking for community support to help make these plans possible.
“I think the custodians year in and year out are overlooked," said Evan Cure, the assistant director for Fish Aides and the director of the Custodian Banquet. "A lot of them are working a lot of hard hours and aren’t being paid very much by the university.”
Each year, Texas A&M University's Fish Aides put on the Custodian Banquet. It's a way for students to show their gratitude to Texas A&M staff members who do so much for the campus but may not always be recognized.
Custodians have been going above and beyond this past year to make sure all facilities, classrooms and spaces on campus are cleaned and sanitized.
"It’s always been a big deal but now everyone is more focused on what we do. We’re being more intentional on every single thing we do," said Arthur Sims, a unit director for SSC, the facilities services on campus. "We’re making this place safe for everyone to come and attend to.”
Students and faculty at Texas A&M can still attend classes and have somewhat of a sense of normalcy on campus because of these unsung heroes. By working at the frontlines during a pandemic, they are putting their lives at risk every day. A large number of custodians on campus do not have access to healthcare, according to the REACH Project.
"They’re not getting paid more and they’re not working more hours, they are just doing more things in the same amount of time so they're getting home exhausted," said Burke Bridges, a freshman leader with Fish Aides.
While showing their appreciation may be more important than ever before, hosting a traditional Custodian Banquet is not feasible because of safety concerns this year. However, in a year like no other, Fish Aides is adapting and partnering up to provide something special.
“I think it’s important to show them that we at least empathize or are trying to empathize with the dangers and the threats that they face just so we can have a sense of normalcy," said Max Gerall, the founder of REACH Project.
Fish Aides and REACH Project will be hosting a drive-thru event this year.
They will hand out Easter meals, health supplies and give thanks to the more than 600 custodians on campus.
"We’re in the service industry, so we’re always serving others," said Arthur Sims. "We really appreciate it.”
Although gears are already in motion for the drive-thru style banquet, Fish Aides and REACH Project are asking for the community's support and donations.
People can donate through the event's GoFundMe or the Texas A&M Marketplace.
A donation of $15 can provide a meal for a custodian and their family and a donation of $5 supplies a health care kit.
"These essential employees are integral to the Texas A&M System and community," Gerall said. "Being able to recognize that and share that appreciation, whether it be in person or in spirit I think is very important.”