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Hofstra frat commits to volunteerism

By Marisa RussellASSISTANT COPY EDITOR

Every Sunday, from 2:00–4:00 p.m., people from the Hempstead community gather together at the train station for a common need: food. Volunteers and community members contribute to a Food Not Bombs station to provide food to people in the community. Attendees come from many different backgrounds, with a wide variety of languages, races and religions. But the primary concern is the same for everyone: to obtain food for their families. Jon Stepanin, a volunteer and organizer for Food Not Bombs on Long Island, has been volunteering for over seven years. “We believe that food is a human right, not a privilege. We don’t view this as a charity. We’re out here because we believe there is a right to food.” He helps organize the donation of food, deciding who can help bring food to the locations and how they can make the most out of the event. Along for the ride is Hofstra fraternity Sigma Pi who help with the distribution of food. “They definitely needed the help. I figured it would be a great way to bring people to help and do something good. [I thought] we could do both and get the most out of it,” said Tom Edert, sophomore business management major and a member of Sigma Pi. Each week, members of the fraternity assist at the local food not bombs distribution site, located at the Hempstead train station. With large crowds, volunteers are needed for every position “It gets very hectic, everyone’s just running [around] and trying to organize it,” said Edert. “There are four jobs ranging from breaking boxes down to handing out the food.” The food is sorted by type, with categories being produce, bread, milk, sweets and grocery items. People that wait in line receive 7 to 10 items from each category. Community members are able to return to the line as many times as the supply will allow. “A lot of the people that organize this and collect food and bring it out here are homeless,” said Stepanin. Many of the volunteers are also in need of food. Volunteers are given the chance to take food at the beginning and whatever may be leftover in the end. “We’re all only volunteers, there’s no division between community members and volunteers,” said Stepanin. The goal of Food Not Bombs is to give people the food that they deserve. “We believe in making peace with food,” said Stepanin. “We’re forcing people to deal with the issues they have in the community. Like it or not, they all have to work with each other to help each other out.” While not required to participate, Sigma Pi members committed to the project upon Edert’s suggestion. “I think my favorite part [of this] is a lot of Greek organizations will have one to two events a semester. But this is something we are doing on a regular basis,” said Edert. “It’s not to meet a regulation. It’s because it feels good to give back and help someone out.” Sigma Pi hopes to hold a food drive before Thanksgiving to collect donations for the Food Not Bombs station. “We want to improve our philanthropy effort. In the past it hasn’t been the best, but we want to get everyone involved,” said Aaron Brown, a sophomore marketing major. Volunteers praised the fraternity members’ efforts during distribution. Stepanin encourages people to come out and volunteer if they have the time. “I invite people to come out with no strings attached. Just show up and really, that’s the best way to contribute. You being here is the most important thing.” Sigma Pi will continue to volunteer at the event each week, and they hope to have other Hofstra students participate as well. “They definitely need all of the help they can get. It’s only five minutes away if you’re not doing anything on a Sunday,” said Edert. “It just feels nice at the end, when you go home, feeling like you did something at the end of the day.”

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