It took one table in the J.C. Williams Center roughly six hours to raise $812.50 toward an impending Urban Mission meal, but the “Feed the Hungry” project hosted by the Brotherhood of Saint Francis household is entirely more about the impact and less about the numbers.
“We wanted to sponsor a meal for the Urban Mission, something to help the Steubenville community,” said household member Gaetano Carvelli. The theology and catechetics major anchored the fundraising table, where Franciscan University students contributed to the cause via a novel donation method.
“The idea is that a student will give up a meal; they’ll sacrifice a meal swipe to feed the poor,” said Carvelli. Students could visit the table, record their name and student ID number and contribute the $6.50 meal swipe equivalent to the “Feed the Hungry” movement. After the funds are contributed, Carvelli said, “(Parkhurst) will take all of the money put together and use that money toward a meal.”
Carvelli said that the consistency of the meal itself will depend on the extent of student donations. As of the conclusion of the household’s fundraising period, 125 meals, the monetary equivalent of $812.50, had been contributed, private donations not included. The total raised sum well exceeded the household’s expectations at the onset of the project.
Furthermore, the household has more in mind than the meal, administered from 5 to 6 p.m. on March 3. Said Carvelli, “We wanted to make it more than just going down and giving food. We’re going to have an event ready for them.” Volunteer musicians graced the space with live music, and the household provided both drinks and dessert.
Interestingly, the same project existed at Franciscan, by Carvelli’s own account, six years ago. However, it was met with considerably less success, installed in union with a fasting retreat. Household advisor Robert Khlopin, special project planner at Franciscan University, first presented the idea earlier in the semester, and Carvelli said interest has only increased since.
Collaboration with the school has been catalyzed by the dedicated involvement of Assistant Director of Student Life Matthew Schaefer, as well as Cafeteria Supervisor Nicole Crossman. Together, the effort will provide sustenance and entertainment to a downtown Steubenville demographic regularly thankful for the efforts of the Urban Mission.
Amazingly, the project has student enthusiasm, rather than dedicated advertisement, to thank for its success. A single Facebook post, compounded by word of mouth, represents the complete extent of the household’s marketing efforts. Still, Carvelli credits the wildly profitable fundraising to students’ collective desire to better the lives of others.
“Whenever someone donates a meal, we’re asking them to either give up a meal themselves, or pray for the people we’ll be serving” said Carvelli. He emphasized the root of charity upon which the movement itself is founded: “It’s not only bettering other people, it’s a self-sacrifice. It’s a participation of everyone, an intentional sacrifice.”
“Saint Francis was big on service to other people” said Carvelli, echoing the sentiments of a university icon after whose humility the household’s activities are patterned. He said that the household’s pillars of charity, humility, joy, poverty and chivalry enable the Brotherhood of Saint Francis household to embody their covenant and simultaneously minister to those of downtown Steubenville.