After a long week of classes, who really wants to wake up early on the weekend? Each Saturday a small group of Rollins students meet on Mills Lawn at 8 a.m. They pack over 300 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches onto the J.U.M.P. bus and travel to the downtown Orlando area, for one reason: to feed the those in need with the Help for the Homeless organization.
Help for the Homeless (previously known as “The Ripple Effect”) began with the work of former Rollins student Kelly Kilpatrick Caruso ’99’02MA.
As a student, Kilpatrick Caruso recognized the need of the countless homeless in the area and made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in her dorm room every Friday night, which she would then distribute every Saturday morning around downtown Orlando. Gradually, her efforts evolved into a massive event where both hot and cold food, supplies, clothes, and other resources are distributed to close to 300 homeless people each week.
Rollins continues Kilpatrick Caruso’s work today. Every Friday night student volunteers in Ward, Elizabeth, and Sutton halls make the 300 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that are distributed the following day to central Florida’s homeless population. Volunteers connect with the people they are helping; they meet entire families, college graduates, and those who have recently lost their well-paying jobs.
All of the volunteers agree that the best part about Help for the Homeless is getting to meet the people. The experience is moving and surprising. Amy Teixeira ’14 shared, “The people were so friendly and patient. I actually got to meet someone from Trinidad whose daughters went to school with me! It was amazing. I loved how close and family-like everyone was and how appreciative they were of our service.”
The experience is eye-opening as well. Many students are shocked by the number of homeless people in Orlando and by how harshly the city treats them. Beyond the laws that state “Do not lie or otherwise be in a horizontal position on a park bench” and “Bathing and/or shaving in restrooms is prohibited,” Orlando has restricted when and how much homeless people can be fed. After dealing with and relating to these people, this upsets many students and makes them even more determined to return in the future. Teixeira relates that she “would definitely like to go back again.”
Want to participate in Help for the Homeless? Have ideas about different ways to give back to the community? Contact Assistant Director of Community Engagement Meredith Hein at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tocarra Mallard at email@example.com to get involved today.