Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
During the weeks immediately before and after winter break, the student-run organization SHIP (Serving the Homeless In Philadelphia) will be collecting used clothing and blankets to bring to a shelter in Philadelphia. SHIP coordinator Kira Grennan ’08 explained that there will be collection boxes “in every laundry room” on campus. The timing of the drive will enable students to “bring back clothes from winter break,” should they have items at home that they wish to donate to the cause.
In addition to organizing the clothing drive, SHIP works year-round delivering food to homeless individuals in Philadelphia. “We collect meal numbers from students and we use those to order food from Sharples,” said Grennan. “We also have a budget from SBC.” The students meet every Friday at 1:15 to make sandwiches from the ingredients Shaples provides. Helpers are always welcome–said Grennan, “We really need people to come.”
Every Saturday at 7:00 a.m., SHIP members take the sandwiches to the city in a van and distribute them in Suburban Station and the surrounding area. “Some people are eager to have conversations with us,” said Grennan. “We talk to them as well as give them food.”
Grennan said that although “some people would say that it’s a Band-Aid solution,” SHIP’s work is unique in that it permits “observation of the problem directly.” “There are so many groups and activist organizations that are great but … make things happen in a way that doesn’t show direct results,” said Grennan. By contrast, she said, the SHIP sandwich runs are a “specific, direct and concrete” way to serve the Philadelphia community.
Interested students can join SHIP’s weekly sandwich-making sessions, or volunteer to go on weekend runs; there is a sign-up sheet on the SHIP board in Parrish.