For some, it was their first look at poverty. For others, it was their first chance to help.
Seven human services students from the SUNY Morrisville Norwich Campus are participating in a class project called “Big Ideas About Poverty” in Assistant Professor Julanne Burton’s Introduction to Human Services course.
Burton implemented the concept in her classroom three years ago after learning that a significant number of residents living in the Chenango County community are living either at or below the poverty level. Through the assignment, students conduct a critical action project around poverty in the local community, devise a plan, and carry it out.
Lillian Gallagher, one of the seven students in the class, is helping Unadilla Valley Central School set up JT’s Cupboard, a room stocked with free clothing, prom dresses, and tuxedoes on loan for anyone who can’t afford to buy them. The cupboard, named after former school board member Jamie Thompson, also carries school supplies and personal hygiene products. Gallagher went a step further, starting a peer group at the school, comprised of 15 children who meet to talk about their day and stress in their lives. Gallagher plans on a career as an advocate for victims or children.
Another student, Cheyenne Miles, is assisting with the Backpack Food Program already in place in the Oxford School District. She helped obtain a generous donation from Chobani yogurt for the program, which fills weekend and holiday gaps for students who rely on free and reduced lunch and breakfast during the week.
Two other students, Jason Burlew and Stephanie Ray, are working with the Bandura Family and Community Alliance, which was expanded to Norwich last year and provided 1,200 meals to families on Christmas Day.
Across SUNY, students, faculty and administration alike are coming together to in the spirit of charity and togetherness. 30 Days of Giving is our annual tradition, which starts on Thanksgiving every year, where we reflect on efforts of the past year and highlight some of the selfless acts of that members of the SUNY community are leading. Stay tuned for more.
Taryn Rackmyer is a recent graduate of Mohawk Valley Community College, now attending the University at Albany for Public Policy. Taryn is a student assistant for SUNY's Government Relations & Marketing Department.