The week before Thanksgiving is a time for people like Stephon Schaller to give back and help those in need.
Schaller, a member of the Student Social Work Organization, is chairing events coming within the next week in support of National Homeless and Hungry Awareness week.
“We have events almost every day next week,”said Schaller, a sophomore in human development and family science.
The organization is working in conjunction with the Fargo-Moorhead Coalition for Homeless Persons and Churches United for the Homeless, a community center and shelter in Moorhead.
Last year, around $900 dollars was donated to the FM Coalition, Schaller said.
Lisa Lipari, Churches United director, said the shelter is always on overflow status, even during the summer, and that with the cold weather coming, extra overflow and extra help are needed.
From serving and preparing meals to sorting donations to children’s programming to monetary donations, ways to give back are plentiful.
Ultimately, what people can do most to help is to learn.
“I’m always encouraging people to learn more about what the homeless situation is in this area, in this region, by learning more about it hopefully people consider being more of an advocate about the issue,” Lipari said.
“One of the most common pieces of misinformation is people will say, ‘Well I don’t understand there’s so many jobs in town, why don’t the homeless people get a job?'” she added. “Well, that’s not the issue.”
Lipari said the majority of able-bodied people within Churches United are working and that the problems from homelessness stem from a range of other issues.
These include not making enough money at existing jobs, bad credit ratings for numerous reasons, past convictions and that because of the current economic boom in Fargo, the vacancy rate is only 4 percent. This gives landlords the economic incentive to only lease to non-risky tenants.
Lipari also said she believes once the community comes together to learn about the issues, more can be done to offer help to the homeless.
“Because we are Churches United and we have nearly 60 church members, we are an ecumenical faith community so I always tell people the very simplest thing you can do is pray,” she said.
On Monday, students are encouraged to wear purple to raise awareness for homelessness.
Serve The Herd, a volunteering opportunity put on by the Volunteer Network, will happen Wednesday. Volunteers will visit various homeless shelters and serve lunches, as well as serve in other ways.
Homeless for a Day will take place outside of the Loaf N’ Jug Thursday. Volunteers will be outside from 8 a.m. to noon raising money for the FM Coalition.
A bake sale will also be held Friday in the Union.
“Anything you can do really helps,” Schaller said.