Online Campaign Launched to Help UM Community Amid COVID-19

New Ignite campaign will assist University Health Services, Ole Miss Food Bank and others

Although all UM classes have moved to online or alternate delivery, many students still need assistance to make it through the semester. The Rebel Relief effort is helping students with everything from housing to medical needs, meals and other critical needs brought on by COVID-19. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Hundreds of alumni and friends have reached out to help members of the University of Mississippi community amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in students returning to their homes to promote social distancing and courses transitioning to online delivery for the duration of the semester and summer.

They’re helping via a new online campaign called “Rebel Relief: How Can I Help?” at

The donors’ generous support to Rebel Relief has helped students with everything from housing to medical needs, meals and other critical needs brought on by COVID-19.

“Gifts ranging from $100 to $500 are providing immediate support to our students within 24 to 48 hours of their requests,” said Susan Boyette, executive director of central development.

The campaign gives contributors options to give to University Health Services to help prepare extra supplies, to the Ole Miss Food Bank to provide food assistance to students and employees, to the Student Emergency Fund, to the University Counseling Center and to an academic support fund that will help with the move to online classes.

In addition, the general Rebel Relief fund allows administrators to serve the most emergent student needs in the crisis, which may change as the situation evolves daily.

“After the announcement that students would not be returning to classes or dorms, we were touched and inspired to receive calls and emails from friends of the university, asking what they could do to help,” said Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development.

“We had not planned on launching a campaign until it became clear that many people wanted to support our students through these unprecedented times. We identified the greatest areas of need and used our Ignite Ole Miss platform to respond.”

In the first week of the university’s closure, the Ole Miss Food Bank distributed 925 pounds of food, or 770 meals, to students and employees. In a typical week, there is far less demand.

At the same time, University Health Services, which serves students and employees, is securing additional equipment and finalizing emergency plans to serve many more patients in coming weeks, and the University Counseling Center implemented plans to provide tele-mental health services.

On March 23, more than 15,500 students logged in to take classes that were redesigned to an online format in less than a week.

Provost Noel Wilkin addressed the need for support.

“Our goal is to protect the safety of the people in our community and help support our students to complete their semester,” he said. “This has been a tremendous effort and shift in a short period. As a result, it has required additional resources and support for members of our community.

“We always are inspired and deeply grateful when alumni and friends support our efforts to provide a top-tier education. We remain committed to ensuring that every member of our UM community can access the tools and support they need to thrive.”

To date, the campaign has raised more than $11,000. Individuals and organizations that wish to give or find out more can visit