HAZARD — A group of college students this past weekend made one of the largest ever donations to the Corner Haven homeless shelter.
Students from the Lindsey Wilson College’s school of Human Services and Counseling collected food, clothing, hygiene items, money, and anything else they could collect over about a week’s time before taking several car loads to the homeless shelter on Main Street.
Corner Haven has been going through financial difficulties over the past year, forcing administrators to close during the day and only offer emergency housing at night. While public officials and legislators have been hosting meetings in an effort to raise funds to give the homeless a place to go during the day, the shelter remains closed during day time hours.
According to Community Ministries Executive Director Adrienne Bush, the shelter is currently run without any local government funds and primarily on donations. In a slowing economy it is becoming more difficult to get regular donations to keep the shelter open.
Some churches and civic groups have continued to help, but the massive amount of donations collected by the students of Lindsey Wilson should play a large role. Bush said that this was the largest donation she has ever seen in her time with Community Ministries.
“This is unprecedented,” Bush said. “It is amazing because they put it together in a week, and it shows what people can do when they put their mind to it and they are committed.”
Jennifer Erwin, a junior at Lindsey Wilson at the University Center of the Mountains in Hazard, said that it is important for them to be an example of what can be accomplished. “For us, our biggest reason for doing this is that we wanted to build a fire under the community and under the lawmakers in Hazard,” she said.
Erwin said that with job loss and revenue loss becoming an everyday occurrence, having a homeless shelter in the community is incredibly important.
“I think that in today’s economy and everything that is going on,” she said, “anyone of us could be homeless at any time.”
Over the last week the students from the junior and senior classes in the school of Human Service and Counseling at the LWC branch in Hazard have gone to businesses and individuals as well as collecting change at gas stations to benefit the shelter. Erwin said they were shocked by the community’s support.
“This homeless shelter depends on community outreach, and with the economy the way it is, it is hard to give if you don’t have yourself,” said Erwin. “So that is our concern that not everybody can give, so we tried to take from the people that could.”
The students had a list of 28 different businesses that had donated to the cause, with many more still being added. Individuals and the students themselves also donated items.
Erwin said that many of the students in the school of Human Service and Counseling chose this field because of their past experiences and wanting to give back. Working with and for people who are suffering is just part of what they want to do. They are going to continue working to help the homeless shelter by supporting efforts to make donations.
“We are underdogs ourselves, and we just want to help in our community anyway that we can because people have helped us,” she remarked.
Erwin said that Tree House Café on Main Street will be hosting Open Mic nights that will benefit the shelter as well as selling some artwork. The students of Lindsey Wilson College will be selling chances on a basket filled with donated items.
The commitment to community service by the students is shown across all of the campuses of the college as one of their core events throughout the year. Malvina Farkle Day is an event hosted by Lindsey Wilson to promote community service. This year the students at the Hazard Campus donated to the homeless shelter and the Housing Development Alliance.
On Saturday in Hazard, bags of clothes and other items filled the halls, with food and water stacked high in the kitchen.
“I think it just shows that if the whole community comes together to address homelessness, that we can do it and we can do it well,” said Bush.