The season of giving continues at Gannon University. Next month, the OPEN Team will take part in a Sunday Suppers event.
The event is hosted at the First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant. The church seeks support from organizations and volunteers in the Erie community to help fund the service each week. The weekly event helps anyone who is struggling financially or is in need of a warm meal.
OPEN is an organization at Gannon that strives to form genuine relationships with neighbors and delve into deeper understanding about homelessness, poverty and other domestic issues so that students can be empowered to take action.
Lydia Archinal, a senior social work major and an OPEN student leader, stressed the relevance of these issues today and the importance of learning about them.
“It is important to not only understand the issue, but find your role in finding a solution,” Archinal said.
OPEN team members are able to purchase the food and supplies they need to prepare the meal by the help of the Gannon community in the fall.
The Basket of Blessings event that OPEN organizes in November helps in funding for the event. The baskets were filled with food, school supplies and winter accessories that organizations at Gannon collected and delivered to refugee families in Erie on Nov. 19.
All the baskets were put on display and entered in the Penny Wars where people voted for their favorite baskets with coins or dollar bills. All monetary donations support Sunday Suppers in the spring.
“Sunday Suppers is the culmination of the efforts of Gannon’s Center for Social Concerns and OPEN students, so at its heart, it is something done by the Gannon community in support of the local community,” Korey MacIsaac, a junior political science major and an OPEN student leader, said.
This year, the Honors Program won the Penny Wars with a total of $260 in monetary “votes.” This is Honors’ second time in a row winning the competition. The group is invited to help OPEN put on the event next month.
All the volunteers will get to work on Sunday, March 25, cooking a meal, serving the meal and then cleaning up after the dinner is finished.
MacIsaac was an active contributor to the event last year and he said that his favorite part of the event is being in the kitchen.
“There is no better feeling than cooking something and being able to share it with others,” he says.
The OPEN Team works to provide and take part in service learning opportunities within and outside of Gannon. The group anticipates bringing in more education and providing the student body with opportunities to grow intrinsically.
“Service within the community is a special type of service that really allows you to connect to the city you live in,” Archinal said. “Before college, I grappled with how to help this vulnerable population, as homelessness and hunger were very present in my hometown of Pittsburgh. OPEN has helped me to understand the issue on a deeper level.”
College can be a time to volunteer in different ways to benefit others as well as oneself. Service learning is a way to connect beyond just volunteering. It allows one to learn alongside others who are passionate about service and promoting a change for the betterment of society.
If people are interested in volunteering at Sunday Suppers or would like to learn more about OPEN, they can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or they are welcome to attend the next OPEN general membership meeting at 3:30 p.m. on March 8 in the Leadership Lab, located in the Power Room.
MacIsaac welcomes Gannon students to join OPEN. “If you are looking to get involved but you aren’t sure where to start, you should check out OPEN,” he said.
“This group is diverse and friendly, and is always looking for new members to learn and volunteer with.”