2017.11.06_News_LoveWeek_MichaelEberhart

Mason Love Week Feeds Syrian Refugees

STUDENTS RAISE AWARENESS AND PACK MEALS FOR ANNUAL HUMANITARIAN AID PROJECT

By Michael Eberhart, News Editor

The Syrian Civil War has been an ongoing humanitarian crisis since 2011, with hundreds of thousands killed and millions forced to flee from their homes. Students from Mason Cru decided to help by raising money to pack 40,000 meals for refugees as a part of their annual Love Week.

“We were trying to look at the needs of the world,” said senior Bridget Borton, one of Mason Cru’s student leaders and a community health major. “Obviously the Syrian refugee crisis is huge and affects people from many different countries, so that’s where our vision went for a cause that we would support this year.”

The centerpiece of this year’s Love Week is a partnership between Mason Cru and the Global Aid Network (GAIN) to pack thousands of simple, non-perishable meals of rice and lentils to feed families displaced by the conflict in Syria. Mason Cru will host the packing event in Hanover Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“GAIN will be coming with their truck, bringing all of the materials,” said senior Jeremiah Ludwinski, another student leader in Mason Cru. “We’ll be setting up different tables and different lines so there will be a bunch of different stations, each doing their own task so it will go assembly line-style, which will then be boxed up, put in the truck, and sent over.”

According to Borton, Mason Cru is an interdenominational Christian organization with chapters on college campuses around the world.

“One of the reasons that we do Love Week in general is that we believe that God loves all people,” she said. “There are examples in the Bible of where God provides for people’s physical needs… That is our heart behind this, because there’s people suffering and oppressed in other places and they should know that God cares about them and loves them.”

The campus tradition of helping survivors of humanitarian crises after the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. The annual project starts when Mason Cru students choose a country and a cause for a humanitarian aid project.

“Every year is a different theme,” explained Ludwinski. “This past year, we did Love India. We worked with the International Justice Mission and raised funds to help build a safe house for those rescued from sex trafficking.”

“I got invited to help out as a freshman, which was Love Guatemala,” said Borton. “This is my fourth year and my last, sadly.”

This year’s first Love Week event was a fundraiser through the Panda Express in Merten Hall on Thursday, Nov. 2.

“Every Love Week, Panda Express lets us do a fundraiser so 20 percent of what people buy goes to the meals for refugees,” explained Borton.

Mason Cru members gathered outside to hand out flyers and sell t-shirts promoting this year’s project. The t-shirts each cost $20, and the proceeds will go toward Wednesday’s event with GAIN.

“We’re trying to raise $12,000 this year,” said Borton. “That’s our goal to pack 40,000 meals, and so this hopefully will help in raising the money.”

The next Love Week event will be on Monday, Nov. 6, when Mason Cru students will have tables set up in North Plaza. “We will be selling our t-shirts, raising awareness, pointing people toward the packing event on Wednesday and help asking for donations.”

On Tuesday, there will be a talent show from 8-10 p.m. in the Center for the Arts. According to Ludwinski, the contest will be open “to anyone who wants to come showcase their talent, whether it’s singing, something acrobatic, something odd and funny, really anything.” The event will also include a fundraising raffle for gift cards donated by local businesses including Chipotle, Potbelly, Tropical Smoothie Cafe and movie tickets from the University Mall theater.

The project’s last event will be a lecture and Q&A with Jenny Yang, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy on Refugee Resettlement at World Relief.

“They are an organization that does a lot of different humanitarian projects,” explained Borton. “She is going to come talk about the refugee crisis, so that we are all a little more informed of what’s going on.”

This year’s final event will be held on Thursday, Nov. 9 from 8-10 p.m. in the Hub Ballroom.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Eberhart