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Students fight hunger, homelessness before holiday

On November 6, 2018

BY MARISSA BARRIUSO / VN STAFF WRITER

Before students head home to their families for Thanksgiving, National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week will be happening across the country.

Beginning Nov. 10, the week helps raise money and attention of hunger and homelessness.

According to the hhweek.org website, “549,000 Americans are homeless on a typical night.”

But what does that have to do with Detroit Mercy, you ask?

The location of our school, in the city of Detroit with its high poverty levels, puts the college right in the middle of these problems.

While the homeless population of Detroit has decreased each year since 2015, it’s still around 1,800 people, according to a report on michiganradio.org.

With such a large number, a few Detroit Mercy organizations and students are using this week to give back to people in need in the community.

Pamela Braund, a sophomore, is Tri Sigma’s service chair. She helps to plan community service events for the sorority.

Though Tri Sigma usually focuses on serving children, the sorority does see the importance in helping the homeless and hungry.

“Hunger and homelessness is an issue everywhere,” said Braund. “I think it is especially a problem in Detroit. Where I live, we don’t really see much of it.”

Braund is originally from Indian River, Michigan.

“Coming to school here was really eye-opening,” she said.

Before this year, she had never heard of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

“We are planning on doing a food drive for November,” she said. “I think it’s something we should participate in for the coming years.”

Mary Kate McNally, a junior, has volunteered to help the homeless through her church, Our Lady of Good Counsel.

As part of a group titled the Peanut Butter and Jelly Ministry, she has served and spoke with those in need.

“I really like the ministry because they recognize that homeless people are often treated by visitors of Detroit like they aren't human,” said McNally. “They don’t make eye contact and cross the street to avoid them.”

The ministry is attempting to end that stereotype.

“At the end of the line, where we hand out the food, is always someone who hugs or shakes the hand of the person going through,” McNally said.

Campus Kitchen, an organization at UDM, fight hunger, too, by making healthy food accessible to children and the elderly and by reducing food waste all year round in Detroit.

Diana McMahon, a junior, is a member of Campus Kitchen and is the environmental and sustainability chair.

She got involved with the group because she wanted to serve and work with the community.

McMahon recalled a time she volunteered with Campus Kitchen and went to Forgotten Harvest in Oak Park to sort through recovered bell peppers from local grocery stores.

They packaged the bell peppers to give away to people in need.

“It was stunning to see all of the imperfect bell peppers that would have been thrown away despite being totally edible,” McMahon said.

Campus Kitchen is planning a pie-a-palooza on Nov. 17 to bake holiday pies to donate to community partners.

Baking of the pies will occur at Detroit Mercy’s dental campus and distribution will take place from the McNichols campus.

If interested in this event, contact Clara Gamalski at gamalscl@udmercy.edu to reserve your spot.

It’s not too late to get more organizations to participate in National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week on campus.

Events can be registered hhweek.org.

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