CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Hundreds of students lined up near the Old Well for free food provided by the UNC Panhellenic Council and the Student Government Association on Friday, April 10. The event, “Thanksgivespring,” was organized in order to provide food and awareness for the homeless community.
“This is a community-wide Chapel Hill festival for students, and it’s kind of aimed at the homeless population,” said Spencer Goodson, vice president of campus outreach for the UNC Panhellenic Council and sophomore chemistry major from Jacksonville, North Carolina.
According to Goodson, sororities donated about 80 percent of the food, and some restaurants on Franklin Street donated the rest. Each sorority was only asked to provide two trays of food but most provided six or seven. Had they not, Goodson said, the event likely would have run out of food early on.
Organizers had set up tables, but there were so many students who attended that most were sitting on the grass and sidewalk. Two a capella groups, the Clef Hangers and the Achordants, performed at the event.
Goodson also said that some homeless people had come through the line to get food and free water reusable water bottles that contained filters. “We had about 25 water bottles to give out, and we’ve given out 15 of them so far,” she said. “We’ve encouraged them to take multiple to-go plates, too.”
“We (advertised) it on a lot of public entities on Franklin Street…and we had a team that kind of went out the forthcoming week,” Goodson said. “If they saw somebody, (the team) would mention it to them,” Goodson said. “Just kind of low-key.”
However, many of the students attending the event did not even know that the event was aimed at the homeless population, and many of those who knew doubted that the event was actually helping homeless people.
“I just feel like it wasn’t very well advertised. I don’t see anyone here except students,” said Abbey Pope, a sophomore public relations major from Goldsboro, North Carolina.
Her friend sitting across the table from her agreed. “All this is is a bunch of sorority girls eating a meal they would have already eaten for free anyways,” said Alexis Bowden, sophomore in General College from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Katie Salloum, sophomore chemistry major from Pinehurst, North Carolina, believed that, even if it had been well advertised, a lot of homeless people would have felt intimidated to attend because of the number of students there. “I feel like they just wouldn’t feel comfortable being here when there’s only students,” she said.
Emily Montes, a sophomore religious studies major and chemistry minor from Asheville, North Carolina, had no idea that the event had anything to do with feeding or raising awareness for the homeless population. “My friends just texted me and said, ‘Free food at the Old Well,’” she said.
However, several of the attendees interviewed were still thankful for the event.
“It still brought the student community together, though,” said Pope. “And I think that makes it worth it.”