In the face of recent global events, New Jersey residents are taking a closer look what it means to be a part of a community.
A handful of doctoral students from the School of Communication and Information (SC&I) are pressing for students, faculty and staff to give back to their local community directly during this holiday season.
Two doctoral students — Darcey Searles and Sarah Barriage from the School of Communication and Information — are participating in the “Adopt-A-Family” campaign created by Rutgers Against Hunger (RAH).
RAH is an initiative that addresses the issues of hunger across the state of New Jersey by increasing awareness of food insecurity, encouraging activism and providing immediate relief to those in need by hosting food drives, according to RAH’s website.
The Doctoral Students Association (DSA) at the School of Communication and information began its partnership with RAH in 2014.
As the acting secretary of the DSA in 2014, Searles found it important to invest in the community by making charitable contributions to the New Brunswick area.
“The DSA wanted to increase our involvement in service activities benefiting the local community and beyond. The Adopt-A-Family program offered the perfect opportunity for us,” Barriage said.
Donating is easy, she said. On the third floor of the SC&I building, there are two large boxes covered in Post-it notes. On the Post-it notes, one can find items requested from families in need.
Requested items include food, clothing and toys for the holidays. The DSA asks that all items be purchased and returned back to the box at the SC&I building by Dec. 7 so the volunteers at RAH can deliver the goods to families on time.
Similar to the Adopt-A-Family initiative project with the DSA, the Students-Organized Rutgers Against Hunger (SORAH) is also trying to give back to the community.
SORAH is a club and an extension of RAH filled with students who want to spread hunger awareness and make a difference in the local neighborhood.
“Hunger is a silent issue. We don’t see it like we see war and violence,” said Marina Adley, president of SORAH and a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
If one walks down the street and sees someone, he or she won’t be able to tell if they can’t afford to buy lunch, Adley said. People can never know what goes on behind closed doors.
As the president of SORAH, Adley collaborates with RAH to spread knowledge about hunger awareness and how to give back.
SORAH club members volunteer at New Brunswick-based soup kitchen Elijah’s Promise put together bagged lunches for those in need and help out at community food banks.
Community service is an important and necessary duty for society, said Chris Doyle, SORAH secretary and a Rutgers Business School sophomore.
“If you do well unto others, others will do well unto you,” Doyle said. “Volunteering is about making a difference in peoples lives. Isn’t that what life is about?”
This year, the DSA is helping two families from New Brunswick and hopes that Rutgers students take the initiative to help in any way they can, Searles said.
“It’s important for members of the Rutgers community to be reminded that there are many people in the nearby area that are having a difficult time financially,” Searles said.
Adley believes that as a society, we need to be aware of the situation of others.
The holiday season is a time many people look forward to, Barriage said.