Offer time, money to community for holiday



By Jackie Nevarez

Thanksgiving is a time to show gratitude, and with just a week until the big feast, students have many opportunities to give back to NIU and the surrounding community.

It’s important for students to take the time to look around campus and find volunteering opportunities that may interest them. Bulletin boards are flooded with banners and posters asking students to give back through time and donations. It’s easy and rewarding for students to take advantage of the opportunities and take action.

As a participant of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, which began Saturday and runs until Sunday, NIU has had a variety of events to promote help for those in need.

Students may have noticed boxes asking for winter clothing donations spread around campus as part of the Winter Coat Collection Drive, which ends Friday. Giving an old coat to the drive will help someone stay warm this winter. It’s also a great opportunity to get rid of any old jackets or outerwear that will collect dust in the back of your closet.

The Muslim Student Association has also been registering students to participate in the Fast-A-Thon, which gives students a look into what it feels like to go hungry for a day. It takes a lot of discipline to fast from sunrise to sunset, but it gives participants a small glimpse into the physical and mental agony of those who go hungry every day.

The Greek community has also come together to give back for the upcoming holiday. Kevin Malone, Student Association director of Greek Affairs, told me many fraternities and sororities are encouraging students to help the community in their philanthropic efforts.

“Explore opportunities in the neighborhood,” Malone said. “It doesn’t have to be anything big. Just find something.”

Some events still happening this week include an off-campus canned-food drive and an Eat For a Cause pizza sale today at Barsema Hall.

McKenna Imes, freshman English major and member of the Delta Zeta sorority, said service is important to the Greek community.

“We have a creed that says, ‘Give graciously of what is mine,’ and we live by that,” Imes said.

But community service in DeKalb isn’t limited to the efforts of fraternities and sororities.

Feed’em Soup relies on 50 to 60 volunteers to serve between 250 and 400 meals at weekly Wednesday dinners, said Derek Gibbs, Feed’em Soup executive director. The organization encourages patrons to donate what they can for their meal each week.

“It’s a lot of fun. It is not your typical volunteer experience,” Gibbs said. “You get to give back and have a free dinner.”

Feed’em Soup will organize its second annual Thanksgiving dinner from 4 to 6 p.m. The kitchen will serve traditional dishes of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole and cranberry sauce.

As students, it is important to build a healthy and united community around the university. A simple donation or moment of your time can impact numerous lives and make you just a little more thankful for yours.

Give what you can — time or money — to show appreciation and gratitude this giving season.