Friday, February 9, 2018

Charity Work and Consciousness Raising

Since I first heard about this idea, I've wanted to try it at the schools where I work.  I first heard about a Souperbowl in the context of youth groups and churches.  It's the idea that the group will collect cans of soup in the weeks before the Superbowl.  Some groups have run contests to see who can collect the most soup.  Some groups use it to remind themselves that the Superbowl spends gobs of money on something ephemeral, while God calls us to something more essential.

Back in the fall, we received a directive from the president of our school:  each month, our campus should be doing something that gives back to the community.  In some ways, we already do this.  Our students go to health fairs and do assessments for the community.  Our Vet Tech department does Clinic Days with free health care for pets.  I could go on and on. 

But I decided to look for ways to do more as a campus.

In November and December, we had a sock drive, where we collected socks for the homeless.  In January, I launched a Souperbowl contest:  we'd collect cans of soup until the Superbowl, and I'd keep them separated by Program.  We'd see who could collect the most soup.

With each of these drives, I've wondered if it was worth it.  But we did collect about 30 pairs of socks--that's 30 pairs that homeless people didn't have before.  Yesterday I consolidated our cans into 2 boxes that once held paper.  It's not a carload of food, but it's not just a few cans either.

I decided to take the cans to my church's food pantry.  My church serves the same geographic area as my school.  And I know how my church operates the food pantry.  I know that my church runs a legitimate food pantry:  the food we donate will go to hungry people just because they're hungry.  We're not going to make them listen to a religious presentation before we give them food. 

I know that one of the reasons we have this directive of giving back to the community is because we hope to become more well known throughout the community.  I'm not sure we've done that with our projects.

But I think we've done something just as important, if not more important.  We've given our school community a way to give back to the larger community.  And we've done some educating too.  With our sock drive, we posted information about the fact that homeless populations are often most in need of socks and underwear.  With our soup drive, we talked about food pantries and their need for the most basic food.  One student decided to donate her left over hurricane supplies so that someone else could get good use out of those cans.

I wonder what project we should do next.  Stay tuned!

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