Georgia Southern students, faculty and staff will do their part to raise awareness of hunger and homelessness around the world and right here in Bulloch County. And they are encouraging the community to get involved.
The annual Hunger and Homelessness Week began Saturday, with a mobile food pantry in the old Winn Dixie parking lot at 602 Brannen Rd.
“Hands On Ogeechee is funding half [of the food pantry] and a group of students is raising money to fund the other half,” said Janna Pennington, coordinator of service leadership for the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement (OSLCE). “We’re going to have some community volunteers, and the food will be going to people in the community.”
Together, the two organizations are hoping to raise $2,000 to purchase 20,000 pounds of food from Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia–this will feed about 500 local families.
Other events open to the community include Wednesday’s screening of the PBS documentary, “Waging a Living,” that follows four families working full time and struggling to make ends meet. The screening will take place at 8 p.m. in the Russell Union Theater. The Hunger and Homelessness Fair on Thursday is also an opportunity for the community to show support. Students and community members alike can visit stations set up throughout the Russell Union Rotunda and learn about ways they can make a difference at home and abroad.
“There will be different nonprofit organizations represented,” said Pennington. “One of those organizations is Heifer International. Through Heifer you can buy animals that are sent to people in developing countries. Instead of having $150 they get a llama, for example. It can help them carry things and can provide wool for sweaters and stuff like that.”
One of the most eye-opening events of the week is Tuesday’s Oxfam Hunger Banquet. One hundred students sign up to attend a banquet and listen to a presentation on world hunger. What they don’t expect is that they will become a living demonstration.
“It’s kind of shocking,” said Diana Hensley, OSLCE’s coordinator of civic engagement. “If the world were 100 people, there would be 15 upper class, 35 middle class and 50 lower class.”
When students arrive at the banquet, they get a card that places them in one of the three classes.
“If they’re upper class, they get a full meal,” said Hensley. “If they’re middle class they sit at a table and they get rice and beans. If they’re the 50 percent in the lower class, they sit on the floor and get a bowl of rice.”
Students walk away from the event with a better understanding of the world food crisis, and often, a strong sense of motivation to make a difference.
“Students look around the world and feel like there’s a lot going on right now,” said Pennington. “They know that there’s stuff going on in Darfur and the Middle East, they know too that our economy is kind of in trouble. Now more than ever before students feel that push to do something about the problems they see in the world around them.”
For information about putting on an Oxfam Hunger Banquet, visit www.oxfamamerica.org.
hile students are eager to volunteer, Pennington notes that they often have more time than money. The student-run Volunteer Involvement Board is still accepting monetary donations for the food pantry. In addition, the week-long warm clothing drive is accepting donations of gently-used, warm clothing for distribution to individuals in Bulloch County. For information on donating either clothing or money, contact Hensley at 912-478-0010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.