July 26, 2022

USM office seeks to help area’s homeless with special event

Darkhorse Press

Photo: The University of Southern Mississippi

By Van Arnold
The University of Southern Mississippi

One small act can have a major impact on the lives of people in need. Such is the message that The University of Southern Mississippi’s Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement hopes to convey with a special Homecoming Day of Service project.

The event, titled #HashtagLunchbag, is set for Oct. 13, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the IME multipurpose space in the University’s Hub building. The project will give students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to bag lunches that will be distributed to community partners who serve the homeless population in the Hattiesburg area.

Christina Bracey, IME Events and Volunteerism Coordinator, notes that sandwich lunches will be prepared to include a fully dressed sandwich, a bag of chips, a piece of fruit, cookies, and a water bottle. Materials for each lunch will be provided via donations from campus and community partners, including Aramark, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Winn-Dixie.

Bracey explains that the benefits gained from a humanitarian effort of this kind cannot be overstated.

“It is important because it gives USM students, faculty and staff a chance to serve the community their institution is surrounded by,” she said. “It teaches an individual about the importance of how one small act can have a big impact on the lives of people around you. It brings people together and creates a sense of pride for service among people who may be different but are working toward the same goal. There is instant gratification when anyone participates in this type of service event.”

Like many cities across the United States, Hattiesburg grapples with a homeless population that Bracey characterizes as “heartbreakingly high.”

“There are about five different community partners we work with each year who serve the homeless population here, because there is such a need for them,” said Bracey. “We hosted Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week last November, and it was a success. So, we will be back in the fall to continue serving our homeless community in whatever way we can.”

IME hopes to compile up to 1,000 lunches for the Oct. 13 event, depending upon donations. Community partners in the venture include Christian Services, Aldersgate Mission, and Edwards Street Fellowship Thrift Store, among several others.

To learn more about the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement at USM, call 601.266.5724 or visit: https://www.usm.edu/inclusion-multicultural-engagement/index.php

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