By Stephen Wilson

If the act of folding 1,000 paper cranes is said to bring a life of good fortune, then what would tying 1,000 knots on two dozen fleece blankets bring?

Awareness of unfulfilled basic needs.

That’s what students at the Landis Center for Community Engagement sought as they hosted many events during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Each day a different activity was meant to stimulate the mind and body in hopes to highlight the plight of many in our community who lack the most foundational building blocks.

Students collected menstrual hygiene products, encouraged students to donate Pard Dollars or meal swipes, worked in the garden beds of the Easton Urban Farm, made blankets for the local homeless shelter, and hosted a panel that included faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners.

Leaders driving the events were Nat Schmit ’22, Aurie Greenberg ’22, Alina Sosa ’22, and Huslen Dashpurev ’22. Many students participated over the course of the week.

“While turnout for the garden project was good and it was fun to prep beds for winter, the most successful event was probably the panel,” says Schmit. “We had a great group of panelists who were able to discuss how the pandemic impacted hunger and homelessness.”

Panelists included Ben Cohen, associate professor and chair of engineering studies, Lisa Miskelly, assistant director of food and farm, Sarah Massaro ’15, director of development at Safe Harbor, Ross Marcus, executive director at Easton Area Neighborhood Center, and Fatimata Cham ’23, director of the Pard Pantry.

“It can be easy for many of us to go home during breaks and see family and enjoy a good meal,” says Sosa. “With winter approaching, many people aren’t as fortunate.”

That became clear at the end of the week when students gathered to reflect on what they had learned and discussed common misconceptions and how minimum wage adds to the strain for many families. 

About 2.5 million children a year experience homelessness—that’s nearly equal to the population of Chicago.

“It’s important for us to talk about real-world problems,” says Schmit. “It improves our education and offers us an opportunity to apply what we are learning to developing solutions.”

Meal swipes and Pard Dollars are still being accepted. All monies and items collected go to Safe Harbor.

Categorized in: Community, Featured News, Landis Center, News and Features, Students