New Potsdam student group works to beat hunger and homelessness


SUNY Potsdam’s student organization Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness recently raised money for food pantries and collected warm winter clothing to help combat the issues of hunger and homeless in the region.

The group’s kick-off event was to hold a Winter Drive on campus targeted at faculty, staff and students. They positioned collection boxes at various locations around campus and placed Winter Drive jars at local businesses to collect money to buy winter items. Their effort netted more than $50 in donations and more than 50 clothing items that will be donated to the Churches and Community Program’s Thrift Shop located in Canton.

In addition, through a partnership with Potsdam Auxiliary and College Educational Services, Inc. (PACES), CAHH asked students leaving campus for the semester to donate the remainder of the money in their discretionary meal plans to buy food for the Potsdam Neighborhood Center and Helping Hands of Hanawa Falls. This effort raised more than $1,700, which purchased 55 cases of canned food.

CAHH existed previously on campus, but after years of dwindling membership, it eventually disbanded. SUNY Potsdam’s AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) Nicole Nephew decided to spearhead the effort to reintroduce CAHH to the campus.

“As an AmeriCorps VISTA, I’m already helping agencies out with poverty and poverty related issues, so I felt it was necessary to bring this organization to a functional level again,” Nephew said. “With a harsh winter on its way and many financial struggles in St. Lawrence County, we wanted to create an organization that could help out using the resources we have at the College.”

Nephew noted without the help of the campus community and the larger Potsdam area, the Winter Drive would not have been as successful.

“The Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness would like to take the time to thank all faculty, staff and students for their cooperation and participation in this event. We would also like to thank all the businesses that allowed the jars to be placed with them. And thank you to everyone in the community who donated to such a great cause,” Nephew said. 

In addition to fundraising for food pantries and collecting donations for clothing, CAHH will work to raise awareness about several issues and host workshops about hunger and homelessness. The group would also like to work with Habitat for Humanity.

Those interested in donating winter items in excellent condition, such as blankets, coats, hats, mittens, scarves, and sweaters, should contact Nephew (315) 267-2685.