Kick off Homecoming week with the #DragonsGive food and toiletries drive. Starting Sunday, October 2nd, students, faculty, and members of the community can donate new toiletry items, used cellular phones, non-violent children’s toys and non-perishable food items at various locations around campus.
From October 2nd until October 8th challenge your friends and colleagues to give with heart and humility for the Great Plains Food Bank and RACC of Fargo-Moorhead! Look for Dragons Give boxes located throughout campus and at events during Homecoming like boxes in the picture to the left.
The final collection for Dragons Give will be during the Parade and Dragon Zone Tailgating, leading up to the Football Game on Saturday, Oct. 8, from 2-6 p.m. at Nemzek and the first set amount of people to donate during tailgating will get free popcorn!
To understand the impact of small actions of kindness can directly affect others in our community, read the stories below provided by the Great Plains Food Bank.
A Tale of Two Siblings
During the summer months the Great Plains Food Bank provides meals to students at the Village West Park in Fargo through our Kids Summer Lunch Program. There are two requirements for the students to participate:
- the student must be of school age, and
- the student must eat their meals on site.
The Great Plains Food Bank has provided this valuable program for the past 2 summers in Fargo and, because of grants and donors, we were able to expand this direct service to Bismarck and Mayville in 2014. This past summer a sister and brother, who appeared to be no more than 7 and 10 years old, would join us every day for lunch and activities. They always came together, and the two were very protective of one another. These young children rarely missed a day, and we looked forward to seeing them. It was obvious when you looked at the children and saw dirty faces and ripped clothes that there were struggles with their home life. It was heartbreaking to hear them talk about their wish for much more basic needs than the wishes for new clothes that we hear from our own children.
One particularly stormy day we determined that it was too dangerous for us to let the children sit outside and eat their lunch. We decided that the best course of action was to allow the kids to take their meals and go home to eat. This brother and sister pair patiently waited for their food and without discussion walked in the opposite direction of their apartment complex. As we watched and wondered where they were going, we saw them walk across the park, stop at the port-a-potty, open the door and both go inside. The staff member and volunteer sat in silence and tried to digest the fact that they chose to eat their lunch in a most likely dirty port-a-potty than to go back to what awaited them at home. With your help, the Kids Summer Lunch Program provides more than just food for hungry kids; it also gives them a safe place to eat, interaction with adults who truly care about them, and a time to have fun, be a kid and for a few moments forget about their need for things that most of us take for granted. At the Great Plains Food Bank we believe that when a child is fed they are equipped to learn, grow and imagine a world filled with opportunity – and we believe that together we will solve hunger.
We’re All That He Has – First Person Narrative by Cathy Herbold, Programs Manager
The BackPack Program has grown rapidly since its inception and has now expanded across the state of North Dakota. As part of the partnership between the Great Plains Food Bank and Feeding America (a nationwide network of food banks) there are certain requirements that must be fulfilled in order for a student to receive assistance. One of those requirements is that all participating students are required to have guardian permission to get the food.
Last year, Dickinson Public Schools began to provide food from our BackPack Program to their students in need. During one particularly busy day in my office, with multiple things pulling at my time, the phone rang, and I was tempted to just keep on with my projects and let it go to my voicemail. I finally picked up the phone intending to end the call quickly and move on with my day. On the other end of the line was the high school counselor from Dickinson calling me with a question to which I stopped me in my tracks. She told me they have a senior attending their school that is homeless and on his own. She was near tears as she asked “how am I supposed to get guardian permission if there are no guardians to give permission”. I sat dumbfounded for a moment. How does a person even comprehend a homeless child who has no one to turn to for help? “Have a teacher sign for him”, was all I could utter while I fought back tears of my own. I hung up and stared at the phone for a few more minutes. My pressing projects seemed to dim in the light of that one question. All I could think was that this student probably worries every day about where he was going to sleep tonight, and where was he going to find his next meal. How does being hungry affect his grades? How awful is it from him to forgo the many things that our high schoolers take to granted such as who will be his prom date or to which colleges will he apply? I sat and thought about my baby, and prayed that we will eradicate this problem by the time she is old enough to worry about these issues. How, as a mother, do I grapple with the knowledge that this boy, this child who has been forced to grow up too soon, relies on school breakfast, lunches and the food provided in his weekly backpack to merely survive.
Every day I am reminded that at the Great Plains Food Bank we believe that when a child is fed they are equipped to learn, grow and imagine a world filled with opportunity – and we believe that together we will solve hunger.
A Mom’s Struggle
The Kids Summer Feeding Program started two years ago at a small park in an area of Fargo that was identified as having a large population of children who might be going hungry in the summer months. The objective was simple: give kids, who rely on the school free and reduced lunch program during the school year, a place to have a free meal. The requirements were simple, as well: the child must be school-aged, and the child must stay onsite to eat the meal. Many times the parents accompanied the children to the feeding site, and often they had more than just their own children along to receive the lunch.
One mom who was shepherding a large number of kids started asking about the program, and talking about what had led her to her current situation. “First, I was embarrassed, extremely embarrassed. I’m supposed to be the one giving the food, not the one taking the food,” she said. “Now, I’m grateful for the help.” It isn’t unusual for parents using any of the programs of the Great Plains Food Bank to feel this way. As a parent one wants to provide to the best of their ability for their children. Knowing that you can’t do it alone is very difficult, but, as another mom stated, “Just because we’re struggling now doesn’t mean we’re always going to struggle, or that we have always struggled, but in times that we need the help, it’s comforting to know it’s there.”
Both the Kids Summer Feeding Program and the BackPack Program have been successes in the areas where they are offered. People are coming together to take care of the children in our community, and every year we are able to expand our reach because of those who are willing to take a stand against hunger.
At the Great Plains Food Bank we truly do believe that when a child is fed they are equipped to learn, grow and imagine a world filled with opportunity – and by working together we will solve hunger.
These stories are just reminders of how a fundraising event such as Dragons Give can really help those in need. By donating new toiletry items, used cellular phones, non-violent children’s toys and non-perishable food items during Dragons Give, we can all make an effort to better our communities with our heart and humility.
It is also important to note that if you visit Dragons Give drop off sites at the Homecoming events listed below, there is a chance you can be featured in MSUM’s holiday video!
Community Block Party | Monday, Oct. 3 | 6-8:30 p.m | Nemzek
Torch’s Ice Cream Palooza | Wednesday, Oct. 5 | 12-3 p.m. | Campus Mall
Dean’s Chili Feed | Thursday, Oct. 6 | 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. | Campus Mall
Parade & Tailgating | Saturday, Oct. 8 | 2-6 p.m. | Nemzek