From idea to action

Author: Cara Simmons


What started as an idea during a UGA Embark meeting in fall 2015 has evolved into an eStore serving dozens of students on the Athens campus. 

 Coordinated in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, Bulldog Basics is a campus-wide initiative that provides free toiletry and personal care items to students via a confidential online ordering system and has helped increased community awareness on basic needs accessibility.   

 The eStore model, launched in September 2020 as a response to the pandemic, allowed Bulldog Basics to continue safely meeting student needs.  

Since the fall, Bulldog Basics has served over 50 students with 4,000 individual items - all for free.  

 Originally known as The Hygiene Closet when it started five years ago, Bulldog Basics has a legacy of student advocacy and support. The idea to start came from students, and the growth and impact of the initiative was led by four incredible student directors who have shaped what it is today.  

FACS graduate Nicole McEwen was instrumental in the initial launch during her time as an undergraduate student in the department of human development and family science and member of the Student Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. 

“I have always enjoyed engaging in service projects as I was raised volunteering,” McEwen said. “When this project was in the brainstorming phase, I was extremely excited about the opportunity to serve my direct community by allowing them to more easily get their basic needs met so that they could focus on what they came to UGA to do.”  

The current team consists of Cara Simmons, director of the FACS Student Success and Advising Center and staff advisor to the eStore who has worked with Bulldog Basics since the beginning. 

In summer 2021, the team expanded to include Carlie Gambino, an undergraduate student in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and Nick Beckham, an undergraduate student in the Terry College of Business. The trio focuses on website management and redesign, user experience, data base configuration, partner relationships, operations and social media content creation. 

 Campus and local community members underscore the need for this initiative. 

Thank you so much for helping me get by.

Bulldog Basics Student User

 Sammi Hester, founder of UGA Community Cares, an organization that spotlights philanthropic campus organizations, believes students are not always aware of the resources available to them.  

 “It should never be difficult to obtain even the most basic of resources, and thanks to Bulldog Basics, students who don’t have options otherwise can obtain the needed self-care items,” Hester said. 

 Carrie Smith, assistant dean of students for Student Care and Outreach, coordinates care and assistance for students by providing individualized assistance and tailored interventions. She emphasized the financial strain of everyday toiletry items can present a real challenge to students. 

Bulldog Basics is such a helpful resource to have and the process of using it is incredible.

Bulldog Basics Student User

“Student Care and Outreach is incredibly grateful for Bulldog Basics, as it lessens the financial hardships that students face by offsetting costs that can quickly add up,” she said.   

 David Meyers, public service associate in the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, views Bulldog Basics as a form of community support. 

“It also allows the campus community to provide a supportive environment for all students,” he said. “Embark Georgia, which coordinates efforts on university and technical college campuses statewide to increase college access and retention for youth who have experienced foster care or homelessness, has used Bulldog Basics as a model for other campuses throughout the network to replicate.”

Bulldog Basics is an important resource to ensuring students can focus on what matters most to them.  

“We’re so proud of the strides we’ve made and the impact Bulldog Basics continues to have on the UGA student community,” Simmons said. “As we continue our campus outreach, we plan to increase access to support more student orders, build a dedicated Bulldog Basics team and volunteer base, host donation drives and expand pick-up locations. We know the need is great so we will continue to evolve to better meet this need in the years ahead.”

 To support and learn more about Bulldog Basics, follow them on Instagram (uga_bulldogbasics) or visit their website: https://www.fcs.uga.edu/ssac/bulldog-basics to purchase from one of their wishlists or make a monetary donation.   

When I have a job, I’ll come back to refill it as much as I can.

Bulldog Basics Student User

By the Numbers

3 pick-up locations

50 student users 

200+ student orders 

4,000+ items distributed to students

16,000+ donated items

Bulldog with toothbrush and text: Bulldog Basics