Bonner Leaders do service work for homeless

Shantel-Ann Pettway

WKU Bonner Leaders are spreading awareness about homelessness in Bowling Green by collecting blankets for their Blessing Bags drive.

This is the first service project Bonner Leaders have conducted that involves the entire campus.

“Typically [Bonner Leaders] spend their time working within nonprofit organizations,” said Aurelia Spaulding, communications and marketing coordinator for the WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships.

This year the Bonner Leaders targeted faculty for the project’s support.

“They may be more likely to have gently used blankets compared to the average student living on campus,” Spaulding said.

Bonner Leaders are holding the drive for National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, which is Nov. 14-22 according to the website for the National Coalition for the Homeless. Blessing Bags is hosted each year the week before Thanksgiving.

“This is a time for us all to start to think about what we are thankful for, a perfect time to share our compassion with our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness, and work toward a world where no one has to experience Hunger and Homelessness,” the website reads.

Owensboro freshman Eli Allen generated the idea to do a Blessing Bags drive because she participated in one with her high school, according to Spaulding.

Allen’s desire is to help those in need and leave a lasting impact with her work.

“I love it because Bonners can establish great connections and have a positive impact on the community,” Allen said.

The Bonner Leaders have connected with local nonprofit organization HOTEL INC for partnership. The connection creates an opportunity for hands-on service in which Bonnor Leaders can pass out Blessing Bags to individuals in need.

One of HOTEL INC’s outreach services is providing dinner to the homeless at River Walk Bridge on Tuesdays.

“HOTEL INC has been a dedicated WKU community partner for several years working with courses for service learning and participating in meaningful service events,” Spaulding said.

A goal for the Bonner Leaders is to collect 45 gently used or new blankets from the WKU campus community by Nov. 17.

However, Bonner Leaders aren’t just collecting blankets. According to Allen, they will also prepare three different kits for distribution: a winter kit, street medicine kit and general help kit.

The winter kit will contain items like blankets, scarves and gloves. The street medicine kit will have items like ibuprofen and flashlights. The general help kit will contain nonperishable food items and hygiene products, said Allen.

“It hasn’t been confirmed if we can help HOTEL INC pass out the bags or blankets, but we are aiming to do that,” Allen said.

There are 11 Bonner Leaders this semester. By doing this project, they will be able to see what homelessness looks like and have discussions about how students can make a change in their community, said Spaulding.

Allen, who has been a Bonner Leader since August, has taken the lead on this project. She said she is enjoying her participation.

Allen learned about Bonner Leaders during a college fair and was referred by Spaulding to apply. Allen doesn’t regret her decision.

“Being a Bonner is shaping me,” Allen said. “I’m doing good work with good people.”