The Division of Volunteer Efforts (DOVE), will be hosting their annual “Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week” this year from Nov. 17 to 22. This is a week of service opportunities aimed at raising awareness and helping those who are homeless and hungry this Thanksgiving season.
According to the Seton Hall University website, this year’s series of drives and initiatives are going to be a part of the Presidential Investiture.
DOVE has been hosting this week of Hunger and Homelessness awareness since 2007, but according to Michelle Peterson, director of Dove, it is a nationally recognized week. DOVE has decided to take part in this week as a way to respond to a situation that affects the community.
“While this direct service of passionate volunteers is crucial, it is not enough,” Peterson said. “Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is our way of showing the entire Seton Hall community that each of us is responsible to be a part of change.”
During last year’s “Hunger and Homelessness Week,” DOVE was able to hand out hundreds of blankets and hygiene items, several thousand meals and packed thousands of grocery bags, according to Peterson.
Beyond giving out items, DOVE was able to make a more personal connection with the community last year, according to Peterson, by holding newborn babies that were homeless as well as mentoring dozens of homeless children.
This week of volunteer events is not the only thing that DOVE does for the community in regards to the hunger and homelessness crisis. DOVE has responded to food insecurity by serving at the Pierre Toussaint Food Pantry, Raphael’s Life House shelter for homeless teen mothers, Saint John’s Soup Kitchen, the Interfaith Hospitality Network shelter for homeless families, the Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges and Our Lady of Sorrows Food Pantry, mentioned Peterson.
This year’s week of events is being led by Clare Holmes, a graduate assistant studying to get her master’s in museum professions. Holmes commented on her work with DOVE in an article on Seton Hall’s website.
“What I’ve realized from working with DOVE is the absolute love and passion these service programs and trips exude,” Holmes said.
Peterson also commented about her work with DOVE, “the most profound effect of what we do is in the hearts and lives of our students, whose work allows them to encounter the poor and learn lessons greater than any classroom can teach.”
Samadia Ferdenance, a senior social and behavioral science major, believes that this series of events will benefit the community and students.
“A good amount of students are going to want to participate,” Ferdenance said. “It will make them feel more connected to the community that surrounds them.”
According to DOVE, the week’s events will begin with Sunday masses to transition into a week of service events. It will include making lunch bags, delivering these lunch bags to St. John’s Soup Kitchen and service at the Interfaith Food Pantry Service, followed by service at St. John’s Soup Kitchen as well.
The week is going to conclude with a showing of the movie, “Gimme Shelter.” The film showcases the struggles of being homeless and will be followed by a discussion led by DOVE, according to the Seton Hall website.
Other initiatives that are being held during the week by DOVE are Thanksgiving food drives that students can donate to at designated areas around campus.
DOVE is also kicking off their toy tag event during this week. A tag, which people have the option of choosing specifies a toy that a child wants for Christmas. The items that are collected are then donated to North Star Academy in Newark, the Maplewood South Orange School District, the Don Bosco Youth Center and children in Appalachia, West Virginia, according to the Seton Hall website, gifts will be delivered by staff and volunteers in December.
Elizabeth Rodriguez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.