Students bear the cold for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week

Ivan Kvapil/Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 26. 2013

Student volunteers stand outside to raise awareness about Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Chris Tucker/Sun Star

Student volunteers stand outside to raise awareness about Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Chris Tucker/Sun Star

Thirty student volunteers participated in National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, an annual event that to  promotes awareness homelessness in America.

This is the fifth year that UAF has participated in this event which is organized and coordinated by the Honors Student Advisory Council. During this event anywhere from two to three volunteers stand outside in front of a burn barrel, their only source of heat, and inform people who pass by about Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week during the week of Nov. 16.

Senior Psychology student Ashley Strauch  said that along with the regular volunteers there was always a safety officer outdoors who made sure that all volunteers where well dressed, that the fire was kept burning and that no one was in danger of freezing.

New volunteers often sign up for a large amount of hours, according to Strauch. She said that new volunteers may not realize “how tough it is to stand out there, and that it is really eye opening to people because it actually shows that that’s what people have to face, on a daily basis.” 

Volunteers have a small jar where people can donate money to a charity that the Honors Student Advisory Council picks before the start of the event. This year they chose to donate to the Food Pantry while donating all of the clothes donations they gathered to the Street Outreach and Advocacy Program. The Food Pantry, which opened last Friday, is donation-based organization that provides food to students on campus for free. SOAP is an outreach program that helps potentially homeless or homeless youth in Fairbanks. The Honors Council chose to donate to the Food Pantry after talking with the food bank and finding out that many UAF students utilize the food bank. This will be is the first year that they have ever donated to an on campus organization.

While they normally donate to local shelters, they felt that this year they’d focus more on the “hunger” parts of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Smola said. “There really is no organizations that, on campus that give back to the students in such a way,” Smola said.

Smola stated that while they have sometimes been criticized by people for not realistically portraying challenges that some homeless people face. “We can’t act like true homeless people, but its not the purpose of acting like true homeless people that we’re trying to get across,” Smola said.

We want to be at the heart of campus in order to spread awareness. In order to pop this little bubble of perfection of having to just deal with classes. It’s about spreading awareness if anything,” Smola said.

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