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News & Stories: 2009-10

Senate feeds homeless
February 26, 2010

“[Hunger] is very common, whether or not we see it. We don’t have to spend a lot of money to find people who need resources and help. You just have to drive 10 minutes.” Jorie Ellens, Calvin Student Senate

On Wednesday, February 17, five members of Calvin’s student senate, along with other volunteers, prepared food for over 130 guests at Stockbridge Boiler Room. The attendees were served pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad and green beans, with brownies for dessert. After the meal, the group joined together in a time of worship. The event was the start of student senate’s spring 2010 Hunger Campaign, an effort to raise awareness of an help to end hunger in the area.

A student feeds the homelessThe event was hosted in partnership with Crossroads Bible Church, which regularly holds these events. The attendees sat across from each other at long tables, while volunteers served the food. Though some of the participants were homeless or needy members of the community, many other community members also participated.

Part of the family

"This is a way to treat some disadvantaged people as normal family members,” said Ben Shoemaker, student senate president. He said that it was important not only to fulfill physical needs, but to ensure that the attendees were a part of a community.

Shoemaker said the idea for the Hunger Campaign started the summer before the 2009-2010 school year; the campaign itself began during the fall semester, when members of student senate hosted a Bingo night at Dégagé coffee house. The Boiler Room event was the first of the spring Hunger Campaign activities, which will be followed by a campus-wide food drive.

Roy Allen, a volunteer at the Boiler Room who has worked with the homeless in Grand Rapids for over 10 years, said that Grand Rapids is the number one city in America as regards feeding its homeless citizens. “Grand Rapids is the only city where these people eat five times a day,” Allen said. “There’s something going on every day, all week.”

Allen pointed out that the majority of this work was done by churches and community members rather than by city or state programs. Jorie Ellens, a junior on student senate, said this is important to fight local hunger. She said that it’s easy just to make a meal for someone, but taking a genuine interest in them and including them is what makes the difference. “A lot of times, they internalize the perceptions people place on them,” she said. “They’re not told that they can do anything or look forward to anything.”

Student Senate intends to continue to put on events like the Boiler Room dinner throughout the semester along with the upcoming food-drive. They welcome volunteers at all events. For more information, contact vice president Aletheia Shin at: senatevp@calvin.edu

~By Cloud Cray, communications and marketing

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