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April on the Hunger and Homelessness Campaign

By Brian Compere
Media Coordinator

Hunger and Homelessness Update Extravaganza!

“Each year, 3.5 million people experience homelessness,” MaryPIRG Chapter Chair David Bransfield said in an email. “There are 770,000 homeless children enrolled in public education schools. Poverty is a real problem facing real people and we want your help to make a difference.”

The Hunger and Homelessness Campaign is gearing up to put as much of a dent in this national issue as it can during the single most important day of the campaign: the National Hunger Clean Up.

This Saturday, the campaign will host a total of five different service events throughout the day. Volunteers will tutor high school students, package and deliver donated food to people who can’t leave their homes, help to plant food for low-income families in D.C. through the Common Goods City Farm, and help to organize Walk for Wishes, a walk meant to raise awareness and funds for the MakeAWish Foundation.

Staying Up Late

At 7:30 p.m., our volunteers will meet at Dupont Circle and walk around the city personally distributing donated food and clothing to homeless individuals. Andre Colter, of the National Coalition for the Homeless, will help us out with this “midnight run” by serving as a guide and explaining what to look for when giving items to people. 

“Sometimes people are paranoid and don’t want to talk to you, and some get too friendly and keep wanting to talk with you for too long,” campaign coordinator Shun Feng, who participated in the midnight run last semester, said. “But overall, it was very fun and rewarding, especially if you take the time to talk to people.”

As part of the Clean Up, we are hosting a series of fundraisers at local College Park bars. We raised $330 from a Cornerstone fundraiser on Tuesday, plus we have a fundraiser and concert at Looney’s on Wednesday and a fundraiser at the Barking Dog on Friday. 

Of the proceeds collected, 65 percent will go to the National Coalition for the Homeless and 35 percent will go to the National Student Campaign Aginst Hunger and Homelessness, which works with PIRG nation-wide and helps to make sure that Hunger and Homelessness campaigns like our own can exist and thrive.

Homeless Speak Out

Hunger and Homelessness hosted a “Faces of Homelessness” panel in Stamp Student Union on April 3 that offered life stories of three people who have all experienced homelessness first-hand despite coming from different backgrounds.

Steve Thomas lost his home after a series of bad decisions including drug addiction, while John Harrison lost the well-paid job he got straight out of high school, and eventually his home, because new management fired him in cut-backs. Alan Banks earned a good amount of money working with law enforcement, but lost everything when his manic depression and severe introversion caught up with him and he became unable to work.

“Alan stood out to me most because he was so successful, making so much money, and for him to just lose it like that was just crazy,” Hermela Hailemeskel, events coordinator for the campaign, said. “He said he never used to say how much he used to make, but when he gave a talk to upper-middle class people who looked skeptical, he told them in order to convince them that it could happen to them too.”

Hailemeskel said that the overall theme of the discussion was that homelessness can happen to anyone, “no matter where you come from. Life happens.”