Franciscan University’s Lenten change drive to benefit Mary’s Meals allows students to compete for dormitory dominance and all that is required of them is a jar full of change and a heart full of love.
The change drive begins Feb. 17 and lasts until March 21.
According to its website, Mary’s Meals, an organization dedicated to the eradication of poverty, aims to provide “the most effective help to those suffering the effects of extreme poverty in the world’s poorest countries.”
Makenzie White, president of the Mary’s Meals club at Franciscan University, explained the simplicity by which students can donate while proving their dorm is superior to others.
“It’s a dorm competition,” she said. “Change is positive, so it adds to your dorm’s total, and dollar bills subtract from the total. If you put dollar bills in other dorms’ jars, you can bring their totals down.”
Donation is as simple as a trip to the J.C. Williams Center.
“The idea is, people just come and drop off their change in their dorm’s jar,” said White. “There will be six jars at Switchboard, all day, and they’ll have the dorm names on them. Every week we’ll update the totals, and we’ll post them on the jars.”
The change drive, said White, is more about the charity than the inter-dorm competition.
“One meal is 10 cents, and $20 (is) a meal for one kid every day for a year,” she said. “We take for granted the fact that we can walk to the cafeteria and have a full meal. Emptying your wallet of change could be six, seven, maybe 10 meals for a kid.”
White continued, “I think it’s perfect because we’re in the Year of Mercy, and ‘feed the hungry’ is one of the things Pope Francis always stresses. It’s overlooked, and we just forget about it, it’s so basic.”
Unique to Mary’s Meal’s is the mode by which the organization distributes food, she said.
“Kids get meals by going to school,” explained White. “A lot of these kids don’t go to school because they have to stay home and beg. If they’re promised a meal at school, sometimes that’s the only meal they’re going to get. The idea is that it promotes education at the same time.”
White spoke about the university’s impact in recent years, and the growth of Mary’s Meals parallel to its donations.
“They’ve been able to add more kids to our kitchen,” said White.
The St. Francis kitchen in Malawi, Africa, represents Franciscan University’s principle Mary’s Meals Kitchen, said White.
“75 percent of the children in Malawi are fed by Mary’s Meals,” she said. “That was one of the first countries they started with.”
White said, “We think it’s just a meal, but it’s so much more than that. It means so much more to these kids.”
Ultimately, one’s residence in a first-world nation is justification enough for donation, said White.
“For some reason, I was born here, and they were born there,” she said. “I should want to help them because I don’t deserve to be here any more than they do.”