Campus News

More than empty stomachs

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It was my first time feeding the hungry with Bethel’s bus-stop ministry. The student-run outreach is in its third consecutive year of street-side food distribution. Along with food, Bethel students also  give out blankets, coats and other thermal gear in the colder months to some of South Bend’s less fortunate. “Giving a sandwich just brightens their day,” said senior Caleb Laidig. Senior Joe Welch and Laidig are this year’s chief overseers of the ministry. Laidig said other guys on the basketball team led to his initial involvement, but that he has been touched tremendously by the experience. Apart from circumstances, he believes than him. “I did it just to be nice at first, but now it’s impacted me probably more than them,” shared Laidig. “It’s neat to see people really mean something to me.” Going into the night I guess I was anticipatory. Nervous? Well I wasn’t exactly pitting out or anything but I was a little apprehensive about how it was all gonna’ go down. Usually six to ten Bethel students make the trip and anywhere from 20 to 50 people could be waiting. Would we get inundated by a ravenous herd of urine-saturated Raggedy Anns and Andy’s or would we grossly outnumber them and be left helplessly twiddling our thumbs? I have to admit I thought twice about wearing my favorite cap and chose to leave it at home after considering the possibility of pleading eyes or a forthright request I couldn’t refuse. Of course I checked to see if I knew any other Bethel-ites planning to go and organized my departure strategy so as not to miss my chance at a carpool and a direction-savvy driver. After a group of twenty or so Bethel students assembled in front of Brenneman Hall, we set off for the South Bend TRANSPO. We arrived at our site and the veterans wasted no time while my fellow “newbs” and I joined the commotion as best we could. I watched as sophomore Maria Bangcong jumped into the fray with some kool-aid, surfaced with empty hands and submerged with more of the red juice. Following suit, clutching a couple cups, I sought out anyone who appeared hungry or without a white Styrofoam cup. Aimless wandering led me to Aaron. I slipped into conversation and soon learned that Aaron was more than a short, Hispanic-looking man with slick-backed hair and glasses. He was friendly and well versed in UFC wrestling (which I discovered is not the same thing as WWE). He likes to write love songs, has a sister in college, family from Colombia and an affinity for the Discovery Channel. Then I met Dan, who attended college and originally hails from New York. He now goes to a Methodist church in South Bend and plays the organ. A boisterous fellow named Tom asked if we believed in ghosts and talked about haunted houses. I surveyed the scene and mused at the clusters of people scattered throughout the parking lot. After an hour or so of conversation, the groups dispersed and we said our good-byes. Some of us ended the evening with a restaurant dinner and late-night shopping, while others may have ended the evening without so much as a coat. I can’t help noticing that despite our benevolent gestures and heartfelt conversations, the two worlds we call home are very, very different. Nonetheless, I don’t think that will keep me from going back.
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