Feinstein Challenge engages campus with community

Amy Sandquist

For the fourth year in a row, Lawrence’s student group Students’ War Against Hunger and Poverty, SWAHP, is participating in the Feinstein Challenge, a national fundraising drive to raise money and nonperishable food items for various relief agencies nationwide.
The Challenge is headed by the Feinstein Foundation, which annually donates a portion of $1 million to participating agencies. Organizations such as SWAHP accumulate “Feinstein points” for each nonperishable food item or dollar raised and apply these points to agencies of their choice.
Last Thursday, volunteers traveled dorm to dorm seeking both monetary and food donations. Dorm storming pits campus organizations against each other to determine who can raise the most Feinstein points. Lawrence faculty members also participate in the competition, representing their respective academic buildings.
SWAHP will provide pizza for the three organizations that contribute the most. This year, SWAHP will contribute the proceeds to the Salvation Army of the Fox Valley.
SWAHP’s involvement in the Feinstein Challenge is not limited to fundraising, however. According to Laura Streyle, the student organization coordinator for the Challenge, SWAHP’s emphasis on educating and engaging area elementary school students in the drive is just as important as the fundraising itself.
This past week, over 13 Lawrentians ventured to Edison Elementary, Richmond Elementary and Horizons Elementary to give presentations about hunger and homelessness. The presenters read a story about a homeless woman and then facilitated discussions with the younger children about homelessness in Appleton.
Presenters were able to engage older students in more direct discussions about hunger and used a “Hunger Continuum” to illustrate five levels of food need. Elementary students have the opportunity to become actively involved in the fight against hunger by bringing in nonperishable food items to be donated to the Salvation Army.
Though SWAHP organizes Lawrence’s participation in the Feinstein Challenge, many other campus groups commit their time, money and resources to the drive. SWAHP Co-President Casey Sautter said that representatives from 13 other campus organizations partook in last Thursday’s dorm storm.
Sautter believes that dorm storming is “an easy and fun way to get the campus involved” and allows every student the chance to make a positive impact. Sautter said the dorm storm brings fun, enthusiasm and a little friendly competition to the cause. Last Thursday night, Sinfonia won the dorm storm Challenge by earning 219 Feinstein points, but the Challenge officially ends Friday, April 24 at 5 p.m.
This year, SWAHP’s goal is to raise 5000 Feinstein points across campus; last year, the organization strove for 3500 points and ended up raising over 5000. The Feinstein Challenge presents Lawrence with a unique opportunity to encourage campus-wide camaraderie and philanthropy, teach local children awareness about the hunger and homelessness in their own community and actually inject food and resources into local agencies.