May 17, 2005

How to help the homeless

On our urban campus, we cannot escape the face of homelessness on a daily basis. Walking down 57th Street, we are repeatedly asked for spare change. While some have well-thought out responses to these pleas, most of us don't know what to do and are left feeling uncomfortable. We wonder what our role in facing this problem is. From this contemplation, a larger problem inevitably springs to mind: can we help our community, if we are not sure how to help one person?

Resources are available that do not involve long hours spent, or some might say wasted, in traveling. You do not need to commute to do community service. There are volunteer opportunities in our neighborhood. There are sites that provide resources for the homeless that are within walking distance. There are groups on campus that provide us with information about the issues and events, such as Giving Tree or various religious groups. And there are ways we can help without even leaving the comparative luxury of Max P or Pierce: rummage sales with donation boxes in the dorms and bagged lunch donations for those with excess meal points.

Despite these various resources, many students are unaware of programs that are available. While a panel on the issues surrounding homelessness is a helpful event, it just does not hit close enough to home. What we need now is something that informs us about ways we can help that are in Hyde Park, on campus, or in our own dorms.