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Above, MCLA students help prepare a meal at the Berkshire Food Project. Below (top), Ala-Zaundria McIntosh ’19 oversees the donation collection bins in the Campus Center on Tuesday. Below (bottom), Virvioly Valdez ’17.

Students Serve Community to Fight Hunger, Homelessness

11/18/15

C:\fakepath\HH drive1 crop.jpgYou’ll see them out in the community throughout the year, whether it’s to clean up area parks and roadways, do landscaping work in cemeteries, mentor youth, help feed the hungry or gather school supplies for children in need: MCLA students love to volunteer, and this week is no exception.

In recognition of this year’s “Hunger and Homelessness Week,” our students are at it again as they help to prepare and serve meals at Berkshire Food Project, volunteer at the Friendship Center food pantry, and conduct various drives for items needed by those who are less fortunate in the community.

In association with MCLA’s Center for Service and Citizenship, the Women’s Center on campus and MASSpirg, students are collecting plastic grocery bags for people to take home food from the Friendship Center and feminine “necessity” products for the Elizabeth Freeman Center.

In addition, they are collecting canned and other non-perishable food items, as well as gently used clothing, for area residents in need.

According to Christopher Hantman ’14, community engagement coordinator at MCLA’s Center for Service and Citizenship, the College has growing, working relationships with each of the organizations that are being supported during Hunger and Homelessness Week.

He said a goal is to create a heightened awareness for hunger and homelessness through the drives that are underway, as MCLA hopes to reach as many people as possible.

“There is a constant need for items. They always appreciate a helping hand or a donation,” Hantman said. “Our students do great work to help these organizations all year.”

Virvioly Valdez ’17 of Boston, Mass., and Cory Flood ’16 of Orange, Mass., have been busy recruiting other students to help out. Both theater majors, they have worked to incorporate food drives at their shows, and aim to use performances to grab others’ attention to the issues of hunger and homelessness.

Last year, Flood participated in a “Hunger Banquet” at MCLA, which served to demonstrate the social and economic inequalities surrounding the distribution of resources – including food – around the world. Attendees were assigned positions in various socioeconomic classes and dined accordingly.

“I was placed in the poorest of poor,” Flood said. “That one meal made me realize it is not fun to be poor.”

C:\fakepath\HH Viv crop.jpgValdez became involved in the North Adams community even before she started her first semester at MCLA when she participated in LEAD Academy the summer before her freshman year.

“I knew that joining the Center for Service in the activities for ‘Hunger and Homelessness Week’ would help reach out to a lot of students on this campus and get more people involved and informed on the topic of hunger and homelessness.”

Valdez continued, “This project is important to me because hunger – and especially homelessness – are two huge problems all over the world, not only in the Berkshires. I want to be able to make a difference in this world, no matter how small of a difference it may be. I love helping others and creating an impact in their lives.”

Donations are being collected all this week in MCLA’s Campus Center – both in the Marketplace and in room 323.