Students at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU), a Sullivan Foundation partner school, honored Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (Nov. 15-22) with a canned food drive and a “Best Dressed” Thanksgiving meal box drive for Cooperative Christian Ministry (CCM) in Middlesboro, Ky.
“I wanted the students to learn the importance of giving back to their communities, especially during a time like this,” said Hannah Wilson, director of LMU’s Office of Student Leadership and Outreach. “Students embraced this with a lot of enthusiasm, and they did an amazing job at decorating the boxes. I am so proud of all of their hard work and willingness to give back.”
Organized by the Office of Student Leadership and Outreach, the drive led to students donating a total of 1,561 cans and 77 decorated meal boxes, which were delivered to CCM on Nov. 16. Each Thanksgiving meal box was designed with Thanksgiving-themed flair and stocked with all the essentials a family would need to prepare a meal on Thanksgiving Day. LMU’s Strategies for College Success classes donated 19 boxes, and a variety of clubs and organizations from across campus donated the rest.
“The amount of food and Thanksgiving boxes they donated is amazing,” said Eric Martin, CCM’s executive director. “This has been such an unusual year, and we have more families in need in our community than ever before. This donation will help many here in Middlesboro, and the creatively decorated boxes are sure to bring joy to the families who will receive them.”
The Office of Student Leadership and Outreach chose Homelessness and Hunger Awareness as the theme for November events. Nearly 50 students participated in a unique Thanksgiving dinner on November 11 at LMU’s Cumberland Gap Convention Center. The hunger insecurity simulation allowed participants to experience what Thanksgiving would be like according to one’s socioeconomic status in the U.S. Each student received either a full Thanksgiving meal (upper class), a sandwich and drink (middle class), or bread and water (lower class), based on a random drawing when they arrived. Assistant Professor Joe Gill facilitated the event to encourage introspection and reflection.
“As a result of this event, students often feel thankful for all that they have and learn how food insecurity impacts our nation,” Wilson said.
Additionally, Marcus Stubbs, who earned his M.A.E. from Sullivan Foundation partner school Bellarmine University, delivered a Zoom presentation titled “Know Homelessness” to the LMU students. Stubbs shared his story of overcoming homelessness and stressed the need for college students to combat the stigma surrounding homelessness.
Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness.
The National Coalition for the Homeless is a nationwide network of people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness; activists and advocates; community-based and faith-based service providers; and others committed to a single mission: To prevent and end homelessness while ensuring that the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights are protected.
The National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness (NSCAHH) organizes college students to end hunger and homelessness. NSCAHH educates, trains and engages students to use a variety of strategies to address these problems, including direct service, education and fundraising.
Cooperative Christian Ministry has been serving the Middlesboro community since 1979. CCM is supported by 17 local churches and individual donors and offers a food pantry and hygiene closet for families in need. Other services include a clothing closet, senior citizen food program, toys for children at Christmas, emergency relocation program, and a transient ministry to the homeless.
This article has been edited from the original version appearing on the Lincoln Memorial University website.