A helping hand in a time of need

Vickie Winterhalter

As you walk into the Italian Kitchen every day for lunch, stomach growling, or fall into your bed after a long day of classes, do you ever wonder how your life would change without these moments? Many on Villanova’s campus don’t stop to appreciate the simple luxuries they have amid their busy lives, but one group of students would like to change that nonchalant overlook next week during the 31st annual Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

HHAW, a nationally recognized week, was started at Villanova under the direction of Rev. Ray Jackson in 1972. Jackson believed in helping the poor and disabled to the best of one’s ability.

Through his work, the University established Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and the Center for Peace and Justice Education, located in the basement of Sullivan Hall. Peace and Justice operates the annual spring counterpart to HHAW, Balloon Day.

In 2002, Villanova was nationally recognized with an award “Building a National Movement Award” by the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness.

This year’s events have been in the works since August. A committee of about 35 people under the leadership of four chairs: juniors Jenny Egg, Katie DiPerna and Rebecca Rose and senior Vickie Winterhalter. Joyce Zavarich of Peace and Justice serves as the faculty adviser.

“I joined Hunger and Homelessness to make others more aware of the events and issues at hand,” Egg said. “There are great things that go on throughout the week.”

Events include a 5K Run for Hunger, a Faces of Homelessness presentation, a sleep-out in front of Kennedy Hall, a craft sale featuring Fair Trade International products, a hunger banquet and a penny challenge. Students can also elect to give up one meal plan during the week, and Dining Services will donate the monetary value toward the week’s fundraising. The keynote speaker this year is Francis Moore Lappe, author of “A Diet for a Small Planet,” who advocates the redistribution of the world’s food supply.

“My favorite part[s] of the week [are] the penny challenge, the sleep-out and the hunger banquet because they are all so eye-opening,” senior Carrie Frank said. “I have been working on the Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week now for two years, and I think it is fun to see how many events get planned and all the different aspects that go into the final product.”

This year’s profits are going to two different places – Oxfam International, a non-profit organization that helps raise money for third world countries and a group of Nicaraguan priests who are raising money to build proper sewer sanitation for the poor people of their country. The week last year raised over $8,000 and the students are hoping to match if not surpass the amount this year.

For more information, and a schedule of all the events of the week, go online to www.campusministry.villanova.edu.