During your next trip to the grocery store, you might want to consider picking up a few extra cans of soup or peanut butter. The extra food won’t be for you to eat but it goes towards feeding the many people that go hungry in Dutchess County each night. We are nearly halfway into November which means that Hunger Month is under full swing here at Marist College. A program ran through Campus Ministry, Hunger Month is a month-long event dedicated to raising awareness of hunger at both a local and global scale as well as raising awareness of our ability to help.
Students are asked to make donations throughout the month through the many activities set up by the members of Campus Ministry. All donations obtained during Hunger Month go to the Dutchess Outreach Food Pantry, which has been running since 1974. The first planned activity of the month, the Hunger Walk, is often the most popular event amongst the students. “Hunger Walk is definitely my favorite event” said junior Cassandra Saad, a member of Campus Ministry “the entire Marist community comes together for it to raise awareness”. This year the Hunger Walk drew over 800 students to raise awareness while walking the mile-long loop around campus.
This past Tuesday and Wednesday students set up multiple stations throughout campus in order to ask for donations from whoever happened to be walking by. “Buck Hunger” is a popular event for this month because there are nine different stations to donate to on these two days, and donations could be made with either cash or Marist money. Freshman Naomi Ko was enjoying her time running the “Buck Hunger” stand because of the purpose it served, “It feels like we’re actually giving back to the community, and I really like that”.
This upcoming week will officially begin the “All Campus Food Drive”, in which students are asked to gather nonperishable food items that they wish to donate and leave them outside of their doors in paper bags (which are given to RAs by Campus Ministry). The food will be collected every night at 9pm by members of the school’s Zeta Psi fraternity. According to Brother Michael Flanigan of Campus Ministry, the food drive is an area where more collections need to be made, especially by students living in on-campus town houses.
Despite the lack of canned goods being distributed, Brother Michael says that he is “constantly amazed at the generosity of Marist students” and how often they come to help do things for other people. It is not only the students at this school that have shown their charitable side but some coaches are getting into the act as well. Women’s head basketball coach Brian Giorgis has pledged to donate ten cents for every fan that attends a home game during the 2013-2014 season, each student that attends the game will earn a dime for Campus Ministry, and each non-student will earn a dime towards a Catholic charity in the Hudson Valley. The University of Kentucky’s head coach of women’s basketball Matthew Mitchell will match Giorgis’ donation not only for the season opener between the two schools, but for the rest of the 2013-2014 season as well.
The purpose of Hunger Month is to not only to convince students that they need to help those who are less fortunate but also to teach them that they should want to help. One in five children in Dutchess County go to bed hungry any given night, while rates in developing countries around the world are far worse. The “Hunger Meal”, which is being held in the Cabaret on November 12th will serve to educate students on the reality of hunger on a global scale. Mary Marshall, Director of Catholic Charities of Dutchess County, will also serve as a guest speaker at this event.
One thing that somebody could notice about these students involved in the collections, whether they are in Campus Ministry or not they seem to enjoy helping others in these small ways. Junior Sarah Lembo has been making sure to buy extra cans of food for the upcoming food drive, “I feel like I have been extremely blessed and I want to give back in some way”.
“I believe at this stage in life you are setting the bar for the rest of your life” said Brother Michael “it’s especially important to have an introduction in doing good for others”. Hunger Month serves as an opportunity for students to exit the “bubble” that forms around their college lives and focus on helping others. Any person can participate and contribute to helping others, and that lesson is the one that many find to be most important to learn.