Office of Engaged Learning holds first Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week


Alexa Headley

Photo credit: Alexa Headley

Jess Zaccarelli, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP — Last week, the Office of Engaged Learning and Community involvement held a week-long event to raise awareness for hunger and homelessness among college students.

The activities started on Nov. 7 with a food drive from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside of RoMo’s Cafe. Although it was the only activity planned for that day, the food drive continued at the same time for three days.

“We collected several dozen food items including, but not limited to peanut butter, tuna, vegetables, soup, applesauce and one dish meals,” Donna Anderson, the senior director of the Office of Engaged Learning said of the drive.

After the collection on Wednesday night, there was a can castle building event. Several members of the service sorority Gamma Sigma Sigma helped build a castle out of the donations. Their creation was then left in the PNC Cafe until Thursday so students walking past could see the donations.

“We really enjoy helping people in anyway we can and by creating this castle, people will have awareness that there is a hunger problem on campus for some students,” Olivia Ricci, a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma, said.

All of these events led up to the Tent City Sleep-out which took place late Thursday night. About 46 students signed up to camp out overnight and experience what it might be like to be homeless during the winter. The turnout was decent, but the event was cut short due to rain and the students packed up before sleeping in tents overnight.

However, even though the Tent City event ended early, there were many positive takeaways and the week as a whole was considered a success.

“I do feel the week was a success in that it helped students pay attention to pressing issues facing our country — hunger and homelessness,” Anderson said. “These issues even affect some college students, so it is important that we learn about the issues and work to address them.”

The Office of Engaged Learning hopes to make this event annual and learn from this year to make the message more effective.

“I have definitely learned what may and may not work moving forward, but I’m glad we aimed to bring awareness to these important issues — especially as an institution of higher learning,” learning advisor of the Office of Engaged Learning Lynn Grimley said.

“I would like to see students become passionate about addressing these challenging and persistent issues in an ongoing way,” Anderson added.

To learn more about the Office of Engaged Learning and Community Involvement, click here.