Drew University students take action against poverty in the nation’s capital.

A record number of Drew University students spent their winter break tackling service projects in Washington, DC, a city where one in three residents struggles with hunger and homelessness.  This struggle is the main reason Drew has gone back to serve needy children and adults in the nation’s capital for the last four years.

“We continue to go back [to DC] because we’ve noticed how much of an issue hunger and homelessness is there,” said Kate Thomas, a Volunteer Resource Center student-coordinator who organized the trip.  “Volunteers are very much needed at the organizations that work to end suffering in the city.”

Students on the trip agreed that the most striking thing about serving the needy in DC isn’t the poor conditions in which they exist.  But rather, it’s those conditions relative to the opulent lives of wealthy Washingtonians, who, in many cases, are just a short distance from the city’s slums.

“In one direction, our hostel was just a few blocks from a variety of soup kitchens, and in the other direction, we could walk to the White House,” said Thomas.  “That was eye opening.”

The trip’s 30 participants worked on a variety of projects, including organizing, rearranging and packaging meals at a food bank; preparing and serving meals at a soup kitchen; cleaning apartments for the elderly; and painting murals.

According to Thomas, the students on the $16,000 trip—which was paid for through fundraisers and private donations—represented all walks of campus life at Drew, ranging from athletics to the arts and from laboratories to literatures.

“In true Drew fashion, it was such a well-rounded group,” she said.—Michael Bressman