Massachusetts Daily Collegian

MASSPIRG to Host Upcoming Awareness Events

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The University of Massachusetts chapter of Massachusetts Student Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG) will hold two events this week in an effort to promote National Homeless and Hunger Awareness Week.

Tomorrow, on the Student Union steps facing the campus pond and spilling out over the lawn, organizers will host the “MASSPIRG Day Sleepout.” The event, which begins at 11 a.m. and will go on all day, will focus on educating people about hunger in Massachusetts and encourage them to pay attention to the statistics. Participating students will be in sleeping bags and cardboard boxes and dressed in trash bags. Students hope to convey what it is like to be homeless.

On Saturday, April 6, MASSPIRG plans to come together along with an estimated 200 students and community members at Amherst Common for the 18th Annual Hunger Clean Up. The day’s events will combine hands-on service and fundraising. Nicole Potvin, MASSPIRG co-coordinator for the hunger and homelessness campaign, said that the day is intended to be a “Volunteer-a-thon.” She encouraged students to partake, saying it was a positive outlet for “people that want to give back to their community.”

According to MASSPIRG member Laura Kyser, the day will begin at 10 a.m. when breakfast will be served and donations will be collected. At 10:30, David Sharken, Director of the Food Bank of Western Mass., will speak briefly. At 11a.m., volunteers will disperse to 12 local sites where they will be providing community service. Jobs will include painting homeless shelters, planting at the Food Bank Farm, sorting food and clothing donations and picking glass off the streets of Holyoke. At 3 p.m., participants will meet back at the common for food and to hear local band Fall Into Ruin perform.

Half of the proceeds will go to an area organization of MASSPIRG’s choice, 35 percent will go to the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness (NSCAHH) and 15 percent will go to the Girl-Child Network, which helps provide women from Zimbabwe who are at risk for domestic violence with skills and education.

According to the UMass chapters’ website, “MASSPIRG is a statewide, student directed and funded organization that works on environmental, consumer protection, and democracy issues. MASSPIRG’s mission is to watchdog special interests like big banks, oil companies, and auto companies, to hold our politicians accountable, and to ensure that our interests as citizens are protected.”

To make a donation or for further information, contact the MASSPIRG office in the student union in room 423A or call 545-0199. On the Net: www.umass.edu/rso/masspirg

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