VISTA Proposes ‘Death to Hunger’

by Jessica Gordon

If you happen to see a black coffin in the cafeteria, the Rafskeller or residence life buildings, don’t scream. Constantine Rafinesque, Transylvania University’s resident corpse, has not changed residences.

With the coffin, AmeriCorps VISTA is traveling from place to place across Transylvania’s campus for a canned food drive initiative called “Death to Hunger.” VISTA will collect canned foods and any other nonperishables, such as pastas like Hamburger Helper and Rice-a-Roni, all throughout Raf Week.

Becky Cochran, the AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in charge of “Death to Hunger,” hopes that the food drive will raise awareness.

“This is a good time for a drive,” Cochran said. “It’s right before the holidays. Many people don’t realize, but many families don’t get to have a Thanksgiving dinner.”

Cochran explained that Transy collaborates with others in the endeavor to destroy hunger. During this same week, many other VISTA sites across the state of Kentucky conduct canned food drive projects.

VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) exists underneath the umbrella name of AmeriCorps. As explained on the AmeriCorps website, “AmeriCorps VISTA is the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty.” VISTA endeavors to create an annual food drive that will help out families in need in Kentucky. AmeriCorps has a day for annual giving of canned goods, but VISTA does not.

VISTA’s rules and regulations stipulate that all goods must be counted by the ounce and donated to a local nonprofit organization. The chosen organization for the “Death to Hunger” initiative is God’s Pantry. Cochran said that she chose God’s Pantry because it statistically helps roughly one in seven Kentuckians suffering from poverty and low income with initiatives like food drives.

Cochran hopes that her initiative here at Transy will continue.

“When you think of community service you don’t think a canned good will help that much,” she said, “but if you give your can of tuna to a family or someone in need it won’t go to waste. That is helping, that is service, and it will go to someone in Kentucky who needs it.”

The initial drive considered for Transy was called “Stuff the Tomb,” wherein VISTA would fill up a POD with donations. However, Cochran said that the Portable On-Demand storage container was eventually considered a little too ambitious for the first year. Yet Cochran said that if there is a good response, maybe the “Stuff the Tomb” initiative will return, but for this year the initiative will be on a smaller scale with the coffin.

Cochran explained that the coffin was found in food services’ possession and was just fixed up for the occasion.

“They dug it out of the basement for us,” Cochran said. “We’re really lucky they found it. I’m really glad they did.”

Cochran recognized that it was a team effort to create the food drive.

“Karen Anderson, Diane Fout and Annie Jones all helped out a lot,” she said.


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