Students raise funds and food

by Lauren Lafaro | 11/17/98 6:00am

Dartmouth College is one of approximately 400 colleges and universities across the country participating in Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week from November 14 to November 21.

The goal of HHAW is to raise awareness about the issues of hunger and homelessness, to educate students and to provide them with the opportunity to contribute to local and national activism.

The organizing students wish to promote a "real understanding of the issues. Homelessness is not just something you read about in a book," said Chris Taylor, co-chair of the Dartmouth chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

The week is intended not only raise awareness, but funds, food and clothing to be donated to LISTEN and the Upper Valley Haven (local food pantries), as well as to national aid organizations and relief efforts for Hurricane Mitch.

A food, clothing and pledge drive will be going on throughout the week. Students are encouraged to drop off at least one can of food and one article of clothing at the drop boxes in their residence halls. Students can pledge money at the Hopkins Center, the Collis Center and Thayer dining hall.

So far, students have been generous -- on Thursday they pledged over $300 in only two and a half hours.

Community members can also give their time in a series of events planned throughout the week.

The first event of HHAW was the Race Against Hunger on Saturday. Roughly 200 people entered the five kilometer race, which began and ended on the Green. Prizes were provided for the top three women, the top three men and the largest entering group by Ramunto's, Omer & Bob's, the Nugget Theater, the Hanover Inn, the Dirt Cowboy Cafe and other Hanover businesses.

The Rockapellas, Dog Day Players and other groups will be performing in the Rockin' and Rollin' benefit concert in Brace Commons today at 9:30. Admission is either two dollars or two items of canned food.

Thursday night's candlelight vigil and sleep-out will begin with the film "The Homeless Home Movie" at 8 p.m. in 105 Dartmouth Hall. The film follows five homeless people through the course of a year, and is intended to dispel preconceptions surrounding the word "homeless."

One of the men in the film is a Cornell graduate who loses all of his money when his daughter is diagnosed with leukemia. Organizers hope examples such as this will show that "anyone can be homeless -- it happens," Taylor said.

The candlelight vigil will be held on the Green at 10 p.m. Students will be reading first-person accounts describing homelessness.

Taylor said he hopes the vigil will emphasize HHAW's overriding message that anyone can become homeless.

"The homeless are not just a statistic, they are people," he said.

The night will conclude with a sleep-out tentatively scheduled for the Green or in front of Baker Library. Over 100 people are signed up to stay the night in cardboard boxes in the cold to promote awareness and understanding, Taylor said.

The sleep-out is intended to physically educate students on something they might be removed from, he said.

Saturday night's Hunger Banquet will end the week. Students will have a chance to reflect on the week and to discuss the issue of homelessness while eating a home-cooked meal provided by the Student Assembly.

The banquet is intended to explore the inequalities of living conditions among people throughout the world. The dinner will be held in the Roth Center at 7:00, and costs either $1 or a can of food.

HHAW is sponsored by the Tucker Foundation, Dartmouth Central American Relief Effort, Hillel, Habitat for Humanity, Operation Insulation, Students Fighting Hunger, the Student Assembly, the '00 Class Council, Navigators Christian Fellowship, La Alianza Latina and various other student organizations.