Students volunteered to package and distribute meals to the local homeless community for the United Service Project hosted by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity Tuesday.
The project is part of Hope Week — six days of free service, social and cultural events. UT’s Epsilon Iota chapter of this predominantly black fraternity founded Hope Week in 1992 to unite students after racist incidents made people of color feel unwelcome at RoundUp, fraternity president Kennedy Osuagwu said.
The cause is still relevant, especially given the recent instance of racial slurs used against a student in West Campus, according to Michael Akwari, fraternity secretary and chemistry senior.
“For me, Hope Week is a week to unify campus and bring people of all different races and backgrounds together,” Akwari said. “It’s necessary because of all the racial tensions that exist on campus today.”
The week kicked off Monday with “Step for Hope,” a performance celebrating a traditional African style of dance. Tonight, students can sample cuisine from a variety of cultures at “Taste of Diversity.” A karaoke night and two parties will wrap up the week’s festivities. The week-long event is free to the public, and the fraternity encourages students and members of the community to participate.
For the United Service Project, students made about 200 sandwiches, packaged them with chips and drinks and distributed them to the homeless population living in West Campus. The outreach endeavor was sponsored by UT’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.
In addition to fraternity members, students who heard about the event through word-of-mouth and social media helped make and package the meals. Inemesit Utin, human development and family sciences sophomore, said the project suits the needs of the local community well.
“The homeless population is very prevalent,” Utin said. “As college students, when we see an issue, we should start to address it. In college and beyond, we should take care of people in our communities.”
Nutrition senior Osuagwu said philanthropy is a major part of Alpha Phi Alpha’s purpose.
“We’re not here just to graduate; we’re here to make a lasting impact,” Osuagwu said. “We want people to remember us, not only for throwing parties, but for genuinely caring about the well-being of the people who are in the community.”