CSUN’s United We Serve Volunteer Program continues its observance of Homeless Awareness Month with what those involved describe as the largest canned food drive this campus has ever seen. The donations from the food drive will be used today in a campus demonstration.
“We plan to take all the food that has been donated and line them along the steps of the Oviatt Library,” said Justin Weiss, the program’s coordinator.
Weiss said students have responded positively so far to the drive, and the recent Survive the Night event helped motivate the participants to get further involved. Survive the Night allowed students the opportunity to see what it feels like to be homeless by spending a night without the comforts of easily accessible food and shelter.
“This is a grassroots approach to gathering students to participate towards helping out those in poverty,” Weiss said.
One of the volunteers at the drive, Jodi Murray, a junior CTVA major, said the reason for lining the steps of the Oviatt Library with the food is to let participants see what their collective donations look like.
“That will get more people involved. It’s not only about feeding the needy,” Murray said. “We need people involved to feed the needy.”
Even though some might question the benefits to the homeless of displaying the donations, Weiss said there are good reasons.
“It helps bring the community together and it helps students realize what they have done,” he said. “Rather than dropping your food into a bin and never seeing what happens, you see how one contribution turns into one huge contribution.”
Weiss said he hopes, in the end, that students are inspired and realize that the part each individual plays “contributes to the greater collective.”
One student, Joseph Elias, a junior political science and urban planning double major, said he participated in the Survive the Night event and felt a need to involve himself in homeless awareness.
“I believe that people deserve a handout when they’re down,” said Elias, who plans to return to the drive to make his donation.
Elias said he is also excited to see the donations on display on the steps of the library.
“It makes me happy to know that someone will be fed off my donation, especially during this holiday season,” Elias said.
For Murray, the best outcome of the drive would be feeding as many families as possible and changing people’s attitudes toward the poor and homeless.
“People say, ‘Why do I need to donate?’ and don’t believe a problem exists if they don’t see it. These events will hopefully change that,” she said.
The food will be on display on the steps of the Oviatt Library from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday. United We Serve has also planned an “Adopt a Family” event and a “Boxed Lunches” event where they plan to feed homeless families.