Fighting Hunger and Homelessness

Nick Sasso

This week Colgate holds its annual Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, a weeklong series of events that campuses across the nation run on their own accord. Organized through the Colgate Hunger Outreach Program (CHOP), this week will consist of several lectures, lunch discussions, film screenings, and even a sampling of local foods with a performance by the Swinging Gates. Every day will lend help to the community and raise consciousness to the matter of poverty.

“The purpose of the week is an awareness event to get people thinking of issues surrounding poverty, hunger and homelessness,” Junior Liz Harkins said.

Harkins, a leading member in CHOP, has actively been coordinating and participating in numerous events that assist those in need in and around the Hamilton area.

“[Poverty is a] prevalent issue in society and Hamilton that sometimes students forget,” Harkins said.

On the home front, CHOP regularly organizes events to send students to centers that aid the hungry and sponsor food drives.

“What that means really is that we send student volunteers to the Friendship Inn. [It’s] a great place to get a warm meal,” Harkins said of one of the many soup kitchens CHOP is involved with.

In addition to places one can go eat, CHOP also bolsters the Hamilton Food Cupboard, a sort of grocery store in which those in need can go to obtain food, with some limitations. These two centers serve not only those who are homeless and hungry, but those who may be experiencing financial hardships and need a little outside assistance in providing food for themselves and their family.

More recently, CHOP held a successful food drive at last week’s football game to collect money and foodstuffs for the Hamilton Food Cupboard. Over 160 articles of food were collected in addition to over $165 in donations.

CHOP and its members have been committed to not only allaying the woes of poverty and hunger, but also to bringing to light the bigger picture and how individuals can help their community and the world at large.

“We are trying to help people provide others with an accurate perception of Madison County and what it means to be living in rural poverty” Harkins said. “One in ten people are living in poverty.”

Madison, which is actually one of the wealthier counties in New York State, still sees its share of those left homeless and starving.

To raise the awareness and student involvement to contest poverty, CHOP hopes the events of this week will encourage Colgate students to volunteer in helping out or at least bring the issues of hunger and homelessness into their minds.

“Our real goal is to educate the Colgate community and be effectively serving the community of Hamilton. A balance between doing service work and affecting change on a greater level [is what we hope for],” Harkins said of this week.

In all, this week is just a sampling of what CHOP strives for every day. Including those visits to the Friendship Inn and the Hamilton Food Cupboard, CHOP will continually push for the benefit of the community and those in need.

“We are hoping to make an impact and make people stop and think for a minute. That’s really our goal,” Harkins concluded.