On Monday, Nov. 12, there was an uncommon sight spotted on the campus of Springfield College. As students went on their way to classes, they passed what appeared to be homeless people with cardboard signs. These signs were not ordinary signs, however, but actually statistics about hunger and homelessness that students were holding all over campus as part of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, which lasts from Nov. 10 through Nov. 18.
“We hand-write the statistics on a cardboard sign, and we place students around campus holding those signs,” said Director of Student Volunteer Programs Charlene Elvers. “The feel of it is as though a homeless person were sitting on our campus holding a cardboard sign, but the sign is about being homeless.”
This visual is typically the first stage of the Office of Student Volunteer Programs’ plan to raise awareness for hunger and homelessness throughout the week. It has provided a shock to many students because of the stigma that unfortunately accompanies the homeless.
“What I hear from students who are sitting outside is that they’re surprised at how many of their friends and classmates don’t look at them as they’re holding this sign,” Elvers said. “They said that the number of people that pass by them and won’t look at them is amazing.”
The event has been so realistic in the past, according to Elvers, that campus police was actually called one year because people reported an influx of homeless people on campus. This is exactly the type of negative thinking that Elvers and her team hope to eliminate by the events hosted during the week. The Springfield College Outreach Committee, the Graduate Student Organization and ARAMARK assisted Elvers and her office throughout the week.
On Tuesday, Nov. 13, students and faculty made 200 bagged lunches for Open Pantry, an organization that will distribute them in Springfield. They have been working for around seven years with Open Pantry, which serves meals through the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen.
“People will go into the soup kitchen to have a meal. Dinner’s served at 5 o’clock. A lot of people won’t get another meal until lunch the following day,” Elvers said. “So they take our bagged lunches and after dinner as people are leaving, they give everybody a bagged lunch and in that span of 12 hours, people will have something else to eat.”
The Hunger Banquet [see Page 1] also took place Tuesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in Cheney Dining Rooms A and B. It was an educational experience meant to provide students with a better understanding of hunger issues locally and around the world.
“Education is the key to anything, and I think that’s where everything starts if you want to make a difference,” senior Hunger Banquet host Keri Cecilia said.
Finally, on Friday, Nov. 16, a group of students will be going to another soup kitchen, Friends of the Homeless, to serve food. The group was founded by John Rice, who graduated last year, and is now led by Lexie Waller and Brooke Simpson. They routinely serve at the soup kitchen on Fridays throughout the year.
“The people at Friends of the Homeless, of course they appreciate it, but they call Friday nights ‘Springfield College Night’ at this point down there. I didn’t even realize that. They’re really happy that they can count on that night every Friday covered by Springfield College,” Elvers said.
Through these events, the various groups participating hoped to raise awareness for a prevalent issue that can be prevented.
“This is a preventable problem. This is a problem that has a solution,” Elvers said.
Now the question remains: will you be part of that solution?