The WSU Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) looks to recognize the growing problems associated with hunger and homelessness in Whitman County with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
The awareness week will run from Monday to Friday and will feature a number of events including a CUB Quality Food and Supplies Competition, the Under the Big Tent Debate at noon on Thursday in the CUB lair and a Quality Food and Supplies Drive running from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at Dissmore’s in Pullman.
By educating the public on poverty issues and encouraging citizens to serve in their communities, the CCE plans to eliminate stereotypes about hunger and homelessness, said Erin McIlraith, a marketing and communications coordinator for the CCE.
McIlraith said with the current economic downturn, staying out of poverty has been a daily struggle for people throughout the United States and more specifically in Pullman.
According to the U.S. Census, 25.5 percent of Whitman County residents live in poverty, with 43.9 percent of Pullman residents living below the poverty line.
“Living in poverty often means individuals and families have to make tough choices between necessary things like medication or food,” McIlraith said. “Recent discussions with our local food banks and shelters revealed that this year, more people have required these services than ever before.”
Debi Fitzgerald, assistant director of the CCE, said as the planning committee explored issues around hunger and homelessness, they recognized that so many of these issues are really hitting families right now. With the tough economy, many are facing huge obstacles in making ends meet, Fitzgerald said.
The committee chose to provide a broad spectrum of events, with each one focusing on some aspect of poverty as it related to every type of family, Fitzgerald said.
There are a lot of things students can do to fight poverty, hunger and homelessness, McIlraith said. Through the CCE, students have the opportunity to serve at a variety of community organizations dedicated to this cause, and student participation in these community organizations is vital to keeping them running.
Students can work with Habitat for Humanity, a variety of food banks and shelters, the Pullman Community Garden and many more groups dedicated to fighting poverty in the community, McIlraith said.
Fitzgerald said the generosity and caring of WSU students never ceases to amaze her.
Rushabh Shah, a sophomore biology major, said he has heard about the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and is interested in participating.
Shah said although he has not participated in anything related through WSU, he has participated in canned food drives in high school with Key Club.
For a complete list of events and more on National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, visit http://cce.wsu.edu/nhhaw.
The National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is co-sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness.