Delivering Awareness By the Basketful

Posted: November 26, 2013

Every year, the Gannon University Center for Social Concerns (CSC) and student leaders bring awareness for National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week to campus.

CSC Assistant Director Jessie Badach Hubert said the annual event is held on college campuses nationwide prior to Thanksgiving to encourage students to take action against hunger and homelessness.

At Gannon, the week kicked off on Sunday, Nov. 17 with an offertory collection and Mass to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank.

The keystone event, Soup for Substance, was held Tuesday, Nov. 19 in the Yehl Ballroom, and welcomed two guest speakers, Cortez McDaniel and Norman Hungerford, both from the Father McKenna Center in Washington, D.C. McDaniel and Hungerford captivated the crowd with personal stories of homelessness, as well as the charge to millennial generation to end homelessness in their lifetime.

The event had a record turnout of 158 people, including several community partners from the Erie HOME team, who joined the guest speakers and students for a reception before the main event that was sponsored by Erie- GAINS (Gannon Alliances to Improve Neighborhood Sustainability). After the event, McDaniel remarked that Gannon students he worked with during the week were among the best volunteers he had encountered from groups across the country.

Students and faculty also participated in Penny Wars Thursday and Friday, raising nearly $700 to donate to the Second Harvest Food Bank. Participants voted for their favorite Thanksgiving basket with spare change, dollars or GU Gold. The basket sponsors, primarily student clubs and organizations, will deliver their homemade baskets and visit the recipient families: 18 recently resettled refugee families. As part of this 3-year partnership with Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement and Erie-GAINS, the student and faculty/staff groups welcomed the new Americans for their first Thanksgiving in the U.S. and greeted them with baskets filled with food donations from their home culture."

Hubert outlined the benefits of the week for Gannon students. "It creates space for a university-wide culture of reflection of how we can better be living our individual and institutional commitments to upholding the dignity of all people," she said.