Thursday, December 11, 2008

Baskets of Hope by Rissa Meyer
During the Thanksgiving months I had an amazing opportunity to help with the Cornucopia food basket project and the TSAS community leadership program. I helped get volunteers and baskets of food for the needy in and around the Durham community. It took over a month for everything to get put together. There were a few bumps in the road but we were able to get over 160 baskets.
My favorite part of this project was being at Cornucopia and actually making the baskets. This really made me feel like I was making a difference in someone’s life. I knew I was going to help someone have a better, less stressful holiday season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

baskets of hope Jon Buckley

This thanksgiving I was given the opportunity to work together with many great people in the community leadership program at the Thompson School. After our thanksgiving food basket project was assigned early in the semester, I was not so sure we would reach our goal of ninety baskets. Even though I knew I was working with some great people who care a lot about the community we live in, I was kind of doubtful that we could find ninety donors in the Durham area. Was I ever wrong. As the semester rolled on, we started getting donations from people all around the UNH campus, departments I didn't even know existed. As a member of the residence halls group, our group's goal was to get thirty baskets from the different residence halls throughout the campus. At first, we struggled finding dorms which would organize a basket for us. However, as time went on, we kept recieving calls back from various residece halls, pledging a basket for our food drive. As Thanksgiving neared, we arrived just under out goal of thirty baskets, making me very proud. In total our class along with Cornucopia took in over 150 food baskets from various members of the Durham area. I would just like to thank all donors, as they made Thanksgiving possible for many families who deserve to have a wonderful thanksgiving.

Poverty in America By: Brooke Rallis

Poverty in America is growing every day. Poverty is when people have lino money or any support. The government Department of Human and Health Services use poverty guidelines to determine a person or person’s eligibility for help from the government. Some examples would be Head Start, Food Stamp Program, National School Lunch Program, the low-income home energy assistance program and the children’s health insurance program. There are programs that are called cash public programs which use temporary assistance for families that are in need and supplemental security income. These do not use the poverty guidelines in determining eligibility. These are a list of some programs that use poverty programs, Community Services Block Grant, Head Start, and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Poverty is a large issue in America currently in today’s society. With the large number of homeless women, men, and children, the government has been consistently putting forth effort into the demolish of the increasing poverty level. The stereotypical views of people who live in poverty include the people who live in the urban part of populated cities such as New York or Chicago. These “so-called” people, roam the streets, beg for food, and sleep wherever they can. These people are actually known to be homeless. This view set by the U.S. Americans who witness these people, do not know the meaning of poverty.
What people do not realize is that poverty includes the people who live under certain financial level, which is set by the U.S. government. The issue of poverty is has been increasingly rising and does not seem to be slowing down. Hopefully sometime soon, poverty will not be a large issue to America in the future.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Baskets of Hope" 2008 feedback and overview Jon Farhadian

The early days in the “Bar” seem so long ago. I can remember sitting in the dimmed lighting of that classroom with those tiny little desks. This is when we first began to learn about the “Baskets of Hope” project. We were to work together to reach our goal of 90 Thanksgiving food baskets. This number to me looked high at first, but everyone knew that it needed to happen. Average families are struggling right now. Imagine what’s happening to people with low income jobs. This year called for a greater demand of food and money donations.
The only way to get people to donate was to make people aware of the project. My specific group dealt with resident halls, so I went and talked to my dorm about poverty and why they should donate some food baskets. I e-mailed hall directors, if they didn’t e-mail me back I called them. I started off slow. I didn’t know how to approach people, probably with similar financial concerns and ask them to donate. The thing I didn’t realize is how willing people are to help. People love to help other people; they enjoy being a part of something big. All you have to do is ask. I wish I knew this right off the bat. To someone starting this project next fall I recommend you get on the ball right away and get donors, you’ll be happy you did.
It was also nice to see the way my classmates worked under pressure. We had a nice mix of personalities in our class that bonded just right. We were able to watch our basket count go up. We eventually passed our 90 basket mark and finished with around 170 baskets. The “Baskets of Hope” project gave me some eye opening insight to the world of poverty. The demand for baskets was as high as we expected it to be due to the current economic conditions. Probably a little more than expected. I never realized how serious of an issue poverty was within our own community. Participating in this project was a privilege and if I could do it over again I would go at it way harder. One important lesson I learned through a project like this is try not to “fall asleep” because before I knew it, it was over and it had me feeling like I wish I did more. All in all the “Baskets of Hope” 2008 project was a huge success and I hope its number exceed these next fall.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Poverty in New Hampshire

An article published by the Carsey Institute (December 2006) reported,

"New Hampshire boasts the nation's lowest percentage of people living in poverty and maintains strong national rankings in other quality-of-life measures. But 48,000 New Hampshire families struggle to make ends meet."

Additionally the article reveals a shocking and eye-opening statistic on how NH is impacted by poverty.
"Despite the overall well-being of the state, one in seven New Hampshire families lives in poverty. 1 in 7!"
The article notes that this information "brings attention to low-income families in New Hampshire." These families need support. In the article Carsey Institute Director, Cynthia 'Mil' Duncan states, "We know that economic and family stability are so important for children's future, and that stability depends on whether these families can secure sufficient earnings, government assistance, and social support to sustain a basic family budget."
The article also reports on the number of factors and trends affecting including housing costs and ability access higher education and jobs beyond the low-skilled sector. 
Perspective of the persistent fear and proximity of poverty to some families is stated in the following quote:
"The adults and children that comprise New Hampshire's low-income families live in a precarious position. Even small fluctuations in their family, employment,or the economy can push a family into poverty."

The Carsey Institute's findings were not an isolated incident, earlier in the year (June 2006) NH Public radio had a news report on New Hampshire children living in poverty.
The report declares that according to "the 2006 Kids Count national survey, conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says between 2000 and 2004 the number of poor children in New Hampshire went from 6% to 10%.
That's a 67% jump, the largest growth rate of any state nationwide."

Like the Carsey Institute the news report looks into some of the factors involved and the need of increased concern and reaction to poverty including,

-'Wages not keeping up with costs'-minimum wage
-Increased cost of health insurance
-Cost of housing (rent)
-The fact that most families facing poverty have jobs, even multiple jobs just to get by "parents scrape together whatever is available."

Toward the end of the report Ellen Shemitz of the Children's Alliance says, "the problem is bigger than a lack of affordable housing, or poor paying jobs. She says sate and federal policies make it harder for children to get out of poverty." More attention needs to be brought to issues such as minimum wage, social services, and health insurance.

Direct Link to Carsey Institute article:
Direct link to NHPR news report:
Carsey Institute Homepage:
New Hamsphire Public Radio Homepage:

Poverty is real. Sometimes too real. In a struggling economy fear can thrive and lives can change. I am lucky to be in a caring, supportive family with a decent living. We don't go on extravagant vacations across country or abroad and we infamous clearance rack shoppers. However, I am aware and more so now that based on a number of scenarios my family and I could find ourselves facing poverty. We could become one of the one in seven families that lives in poverty in New Hampshire. 
1 in 7. It really gives perspective. Pick out seven of your neighbors, seven of your friends, seven of your classmates. One in each group could be feeling the impact of poverty first hand. Poverty is hard to see but its there and sometimes closer then we tend to think it is.

-Kristen Mosher

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Baskets of Hope...Still Hopeful" by Maureen Walcek

I thought when starting this project, the reality of getting people to donate so much extra food to the homeless in this time of economic crisis was not possible. Each class we would talk about organizing the project and everyone brought up new and exciting ideas. The problem I found was that we were doing a lot more talking than action. I am the type of person that like to dive in head first and get their hands dirty with a project. But, with this project, I learned that my way wasn't the only way that will work.
We went from class to class updating each other on how many baskets we had. It was frustrating as a member of the Student Organizations group because we had put so much work into Fraternities and Sororities. I had the impression that every Greek organization would donate a few baskets. However, only a few confirmed donations with us so we had to think of another alternative. We tried to email as many student organizations as possible, but it could be quite possible that students don't read their email as much as we wished they would. So, without phone numbers, and without a designated number of baskets, we were suck.
Then came the day of organizing everything at Waysmeet. It was hectic and crowded in the room that we had to put together baskets, but it had to be done. For the most part, everyone from our class showed up for at least two hours, some stayed longer. Our basket making strategy was to organize the food in an assembly line of sorts. By the time we were done with the baskets, we still has a lot of canned goods, breads, and fresh fruits and vegetables. The baskets came out full of food and other supplies for those who requested them. All of the extra food was left for the pantry.
I went into this project thinking we wouldn't get enough baskets period. We ended up with a surplus of food and volunteers to bring a happy Thanksgiving to all that we could