What began as a small exercise to show the power of a collective non-profit endeavor has proven to be a big success for residents and staff of Campus Living Villages student housing communities around the country. Entitled "Impact Hunger," the fall semester initiative, which was created through Campus Living Villages' "Live, Learn, Grow" residence life program, exceeded all projections. Achieving 145% of the initial goal, 25,500 pounds of non-perishable food items were collected by the November 24, 2010 cutoff date. And during the holidays, when awareness of need becomes most acute, the bounty is supporting food banks and non-profit partners in the 28 towns and cities across 13 states, where the company owns and operates Villages on or adjacent to college campuses.
According to Campus Living Villages Director of Residence Life, Randy Degner, "When the planning committee first came up with the idea of a company-wide challenge, we knew it had the potential to be something big, but I am a truly touched by how well it was embraced by the staff and residents."
The fervor of campus-based residents and staff, some of whom began the planning of food drive events as early as August 2010, was not lost on Campus Living Villages' US headquarters in Houston. The 40-person office also embarked on a series of team activities, which ended up raising $2,235 and 253 pounds of food to benefit the Houston Food Bank's Backpack Buddy Club.
With each Village having full autonomy to determine the local groups they wanted to support, as well as complete control of how they intended to collect, creativity was at a premium. Some of the most successful drives sought to involve entire college campuses or communities as a whole with efforts ranging from door-to-door pickups and bake sales to parties, haunted houses and concerts, where guests exchanged canned goods for admission. In some cases, the tactic was to raise dollars to purchase food for donation. At Illinois Central College's WoodView Commons in East Peoria, for instance, TVs gifted by students moving out were sold to put cash into the program's coffers.
With the completion of Impact Hunger, Village residents and staff are now planning for the spring semester companion challenge, called "Impact Thirst" with a volunteer force of approximately 17,500 Campus Living Villages US-based staff and residents targeting water quality issues. The task: raise at least $1 per resident and staff member by Earth Day in April. The resulting funds have been earmarked to support Water For People, an international, non-profit humanitarian organization that provides sustainable, safe drinking water resources and improved sanitation facilities in the developing world.
"By emphasizing education, service and giving among thousands of residents and employees across the United States, we believe that we have the strength to dramatically impact key social issues and affect positive social change in the world," says Degner.