Georgia State students give back to their community

“I would say there are probably going to be at least 800 students involved in [Hunger & Homelessness Week].” -Jennifer Bodnar


With the holiday season slowly approaching, more and more volunteer opportunities will become available for students to take advantage of.

Student volunteers are an essential part in providing help to events hosted by Georgia State organizations. Organizations at Georgia State will be putting aside time to help out at SafeHouse Outreach and also participate in volunteer opportunities during Hunger Homelessness Week.

SafeHouse Outreach

The Student Alumni Association, one of the largest organizations on campus, hosts an annual dinner night at SafeHouse Outreach. This event is open to all members of SAA and provides an opportunity for students to get a taste of what giving back really means.

“In preparation for SafeHosue Night we conduct toiletry drives where students bring 10 toiletries to the next football game,” said Shaunté Thomas, president of Student Alumni Association. “When Student Alumni Association goes to SafeHouse for the dinner night, we also make toiletry bags to pass out. Throughout the night we fellowship with the people in attendance by playing games, doing giveaways, singing and simply sharing stories. We have a great time.”

Apart from donating toiletries, student volunteers will serve food. Typically they serve turkey sandwiches, chips, fruit bowls and fruit punch, which SAA prepare the day of in the SafeHouse kitchen. However, this year the organization is working on changing the food options.

For those who don’t know about SafeHouse Outreach, it is an urban outreach that has dedicated themselves to providing emotional and physical support to those who have slipped through the cracks of society. The goal is to help lead those individuals back into healthier and more practical lives.

The annual dinner that SAA hosts is part of a bigger effort to make a difference in the Atlanta community. Since we attend a school in the heart of Atlanta, walking past someone in need is an everyday occurrence.

Hunger & Homelessness Week

Nov 10-14, 2014


Hunger and Homelessness Week, currently in its third year, is hosted by The Office of Civic Engagement. Throughout the month of November, participants from the community, non-profit organizations and student organizations on campus will come together to create awareness about the issues individuals are facing in downtown Atlanta. One issue in particular is hunger.

“Hunger remains a prevalent and critical issue in our community. In the Atlanta Community Food Bank’s 29-county service area, we know that one in seven people will visit a food pantry or feeding program each year to obtain assistance with finding enough food to eat,” said Chris Ferguson, Education and Outreach Coordinator at Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Those who would like to help fight hunger can donate nonperishable food items in the barrels found in the Office of Civic Engagement. Donations will be accepted through Dec. 3. Some of the student organizations like Panther Break Away, Circle K and the Red Cross Club as well as faculty and staff offices have contributed to this drive by trying to fill up one barrel each. In the end these goods will be donated to The Salvation Army.

“The biggest thing that the agencies look for is quality nutritious food that are nonperishable. They are really looking for fruits, vegetables, peanut butter and canned tuna. Things like these have more nutritional substance,” said Jennifer Bodnar, Student Affairs Advisor in the Office of Civic Engagement.

Student organizations, staff and faculty offices are not the only ones who can help out during this awareness week. Individual students can volunteer as well.

“I would say there are probably going to be at least 800 students involved in [Hunger & Homelessness Week],” Bodnar said. “Some of our panel discussions hold about 140 people each and housing is putting on the event, Boxing and Hunger. Students are actually going to be sleeping outside to sort of mimic what it is like to be homeless, but of course you can’t really get the full experience. It is meant as awareness raising.”

The reasoning behind hosting and volunteering at these events is to bring awareness and understanding to Georgia State students. Being a student or a faculty member here, it is apparent what we see when walking from one part of campus to another: someone begging on the street in need. Many students are unknowing and have strong opinions on how people ended up in the position we see them in today.

“A variety of different reasons could be the case, such as domestic violence, loss of employment, mental health issues or disabilities,” Bodnar said.

By volunteering at SafeHouse Outreach and at the events during Hunger and Homelessness week students will get the chance to provide a service to those less fortunate and gain a true experience.