Love Thy Neighbor fights homelessness, hunger

Shown here are the staff members for Tennessee Wesleyan University’s Love Thy Neighbor project.

The Love thy Neighbor Project at Tennessee Wesleyan University will be accepting donations for its annual Hunger and Homelessness awareness week next week.

The Love thy Neighbor Project’s mission is to combat “food insecurity problems” among McMinn County residents and students.

According to a press release from TWU, Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is an annual program with many different participating organizations coming together for education, advocating and fundraising events.

Donations will be accepted Monday through Friday next week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

According to TWU’s Community Engagement and Volunteer Coordinator Maegan McUmber, the City of Athens may have a homeless population that people aren’t aware of.

“I think it is important that people are aware that Love thy Neighbor Project and Tennessee Wesleyan is serving a really important part of our community,” McUmber said. “Not only is this an important population, but something needs to be done to correct the reason why there is such a large population of people who are on the borderline of being homeless or are food insecure and don’t know if they are going to have a stable source of affordable, healthy food.”

Love thy Neighbor has been performing this annual event for three years.

McUmber stated this year has been difficult to organize due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Originally we wanted to do a lot more or bigger events and fundraising, but we are trying to keep everything as virtual as possible due to COVID,” she noted. “Due to COVID, we will be doing a week long event and setting out donation boxes around the campus and some local schools, like Etowah City School is allowing us to set up a donation box in their office. This is the main way that we are trying to make an impact this year because it has been difficult to try to find a balance between doing events but follow social distancing guidelines.”

In past years they have strived to line up their Hunger and Homelessness awareness project with the mobile food pantry.

“This is a national thing that people participate in across the country,” she stated. “A lot of universities take part in Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. This year I really wanted to spread the word that even though we may not be able to get hands-on help from the community as much as we would like to that people still know that it is happening next week and are aware in case they want to donate food or clothing.”

The primary drop off location will be the Willson House near the baseball field on the TWU campus.

Other donation box locations consist of residence halls for the students of TWU and the dining hall.

“I think if people in the community want to donate, the best place will probably be at the Willson House,” she said.

Accepted donations will be non-perishable food, winter clothing such as long sleeve shirts, jackets, pants, shoes, etc. and blankets.

Those who would like to donate but cannot make it during the designated time can call TWU to inform them of a time they can make a donation.

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