1400 MU students come together to help Milwaukee

Photo by Xidan Zhang/ xidan.zhang@mu.edu

Photo by Xidan Zhang/ xidan.zhang@mu.edu

Marquette students helped raise $20,000 for community agencies on Saturday at Hunger Clean-Up, the university’s biggest single day of service of the year.

About 1,400 members of the Marquette community volunteered for the annual event to serve the less fortunate in the greater Milwaukee area.

Since it began 24 years ago, Hunger Clean-Up has raised nearly $450,000 for more than 50 local Milwaukee agencies, making it “one of the most successful events of its kind in the nation,” according to a Marquette press release.

Brittany White, co-coordinator of the event and a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said Hunger Clean-Up allows students to experience active engagement in the community. She said reflections the student groups on the day have been positive so far.

“(Hunger Clean-Up) was absolutely a success,” she said. “Finally seeing it become real was amazing.”

During the 9 a.m. opening ceremony,  three organizations — Lissy’s Place, Guest House of Milwaukee and St. Vincent de Paul Society — received a $3,000 grant from Hunger Clean-Up. Immediately following the ceremony, students traveled to their work sites and volunteered for three to five hours.

One group of 23 Burke Scholars, an academic and volunteer-based scholarship program, volunteered at St. Hyacinth Food Pantry on the south side of Milwaukee. The pantry, which has served the community for more than 100 years, gives out about 16,000 pounds of food a month even though it is only open once a week for two hours.

Jim Luther, the director of St. Hyacinth Food Pantry, estimates that 150 families come on any given week to receive food. Each family can only come once a month per federal regulations.

In addition to food, the pantry provides clothing and basic hygiene supplies. There are also nurses available for basic medical care as well as a Spanish interpreter for people whose English is limited.

Saturday, the Marquette volunteers sorted clothing, separated out types of bags and checked the expiration dates on donated food prior to sorting it.

The students said working at St. Hyacinth was an interesting experience.

“Even though we were packaging food, we were able to think how (our) work was being used to help the community,” said Kelly Boehlke, a junior in the College of Health Sciences.

Krieg Tidemann, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he appreciated the pragmatic approach taken by St. Hyacinth to meet the challenges and problems they encountered.

The students also said that Hunger Clean-Up is a great way to get involved with the extended Milwaukee community.

“Hunger Clean-Up is that one day where we all come together and do work,” Boehlke said.

“It’s a day to raise awareness … and set an example for the rest of the year,” said Tom St. Peter, a senior in the College of Health Sciences who has participated in Hunger Clean-Up for four years.

“I think it’s a great campus-wide opportunity,” Tidemann said.

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