By Taylor Yauger
As a way to give back to the Youngstown community, honors college students Megan Evans and Ashley Orr established Poverty Awareness in Youngstown in 2015. PAYO members facilitate a canned food drive and offer volunteer opportunities to students.
Noor Khalayleh, co-chair member of PAYO, said before PAYO she didn’t know how to help fight poverty in the community.
“Poverty is a prevalent issue around the world, and I’ve always felt helpless because I never knew how I could help in a way that would make a difference on a larger scale. I was excited to find out that the Honors College, specifically PAYO, did exactly just that,” Khalayleh said.
The first can drive held in 2016 collected 315 cans. Last year, PAYO received an increase in effort and donations, reaching a quota of 5,000 cans to distribute to local Youngstown shelters such as Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley, the Salvation Army and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
The 2018 canned food drive is currently taking place, running through Nov. 16. Drop box locations are available in every college, except in the graduate college.
National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is an annual event that occurs across the country, where people come together to draw attention to the hungry and homeless in local communities.
This national event originated at Villanova University in 1975 under the guidance of the late Ray Jackson, a priest whose legacy also includes co-founding the University’s Center for Peace and Justice Education.
Educational services, fundraisers, food and clothing drives and hunger strikes are all events held by participating volunteers.
“The number of homeless individuals in Mahoning County has grown up to 368, of whom 74 were unsheltered in the past three years,” according to a report by the Vindicator.
With hopes to raise more donations since the expansion to the entire campus, PAYO partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank and Student Government Association Food Pantry to collect cans.
Sarah Elisabeth A. Odidika, also a co-chairman with PAYO, has goals to add positive contribution and change in our neighborhoods.
“I hope this drive yields impactful results that can benefit the Youngstown community,” Odidika said.
The members of PAYO perform many positive community acts annually and dedicate time to sending a message, even if that means fasting for 30 hours straight to replicate individuals that suffer this lifestyle daily.
The average individual does not have to choose between livelihood priorities or eating, unlike some who are homeless. PAYO is trying to educate and humble the Youngstown State
University campus and the Youngstown community.
Jasmine Smyles, a third co-chair member encourages everyone to get involved in the charitable campus events and in the local community.
“I love making a difference through PAYO and impacting people who live this reality of poverty,” Smyles said. “I love planning and participating in our Fall and Spring event. National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness is the main event in the fall and the PAYO carnival, where we give out books, dental hygiene products and play games with the children is our main event in the spring.”
Drop Box Locations:
Beeghly College of Education: 1st floor near the auditorium
College of Creative Arts and Communication: Dean’s Office (2nd Floor) or outside of Ford Theater (1st floor)
College of Health and Human Services: In front of elevators on the 1st floor or 1st floor along the cafe lounge walls
College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: 1st floor of atrium
Williamson College of Business Box: 1st floor near the cafe