Fraternities and sororities help the homeless

By Alexandra Graziano

Alexandra Graziano/Collegian

For the past 24 years, the Amherst Friends for the Homeless has run Shelter Sunday, an annual one-day event that raises money for area homeless shelters and food pantries.

This year’s event was held yesterday, and participants canvassed across town and solicited donations at area homes.

“We have some people from the community who are on the boards with the different organizations it benefits. The rest of the canvassers are from the fraternities and sororities,” said Penny Kim, the secretary of the Shelter Sunday board. “Usually it’s around 300 [volunteers].”

Michael Wiseman, who is the director of fraternities and sororities at UMass and is also a board member for Shelter Sunday, noted that members of Greek Life at UMass were encouraged to participate in the event as a way to give back to their community.

“About 20 chapters signed up,” Wiseman said. “We’ve been doing Shelter Sunday for at least 15 years.”

There were also a number of students from the Boltwood Project participating, including Sarah Conroy, Olivia Herndon, Chelsea Hockman, and Tara Poshkus, who volunteered their time to canvass the area around Grantwood Drive.

The girls went door-to-door throughout the neighborhood, talking to residents, explaining Shelter Sunday and its many beneficiaries, and collecting donations. Even when they were unable to reach a resident of a home, they left a brochure and envelope for mail-in donations, which make up over 50 percent of donations, according to the Shelter Sunday website.

Upon their return, canvassers were given a given a gift certificate from Bueno y Sano for volunteering their time to participate in the events.

Last year, the one-day event, which reached out to about 4,500 different homes, collected a total of $34,000 to be distributed among the various beneficiaries. Funds benefit agencies such as the Amherst Survival Center, Amherst Winter Shelter, Not Bread Alone and Safe Passage. The total funds that were raised through yesterday’s effort won’t be fully calculated until the mail-in donations are sent in.

Alexandra Graziano can be reached at [email protected]