The Western Michigan University Department of Theatre has started their annual Acting Against Poverty food drive, which will run until Nov. 4.
Darcie Crager is one student who plays a role in Acting Against Poverty.
“This is our second year of really making an initiative with the title called Acting Against Poverty,” Crager said. “I’m an arts management major, so I was kind of on the collaboration team in terms of finding a way to give it a brand and how to market it to students.”
The Acting Against Poverty title is going on its second year, but the food drive has been going on for many years.
“I actually started it probably as many as ten years ago,” said Joan Herrington, chair of the Department of Theatre.
Herrington noted that, since the food drive became Acting Against Poverty, it has been student-led.
“I have really passed that on,” Herrington said. “We have a student team that’s leading it, which is great. It’s really exciting for me when our students are entrepreneurial and proactive and sufficiently efficient that they can make something like this happen. I think that really speaks to the quality of students at WMU.”
Crager said the homeless population is an issue that students and theatre patrons can help fix by helping with the food drive.
“A very large percentage of our population live below the poverty line,” Herrington said. “In the last couple of years, the need in our community for a valuable food at no or low cost has increased tremendously.”
Herrington said that’s the reason that the food gathering project turned into Acting Against Poverty, encouraging community members to participate. Productions of “The Three Musketeers” and “Spring Awakening” have offered or will offer opportunities for attendees to make donations.
Herrington also expressed the way that working together can have an exponential impact.
“When we have an opportunity to do something together as a community that helps the community, that’s an opportunity that everyone should take,” Herrington said. “Working together, we can do more than working individually.”
Herrington gave an example of an eight-year-old child who is not able to afford lunch.
“I can do something about that,” Herrington said. “I can spend a dollar, buy a can of soup, drop it off at the Department of Theatre and some kid in my community will have a lunch where maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise have had lunch. That’s a huge impact that we can have.”
Herrington hopes that the Acting Against Poverty project may spark other student groups to create similar initiatives to help the Kalamazoo community. The donated food goes to Kalamazoo’s local food pantry, Loaves and Fishes.
“They have a food-of-the-month that they’re looking for, so this month they’re looking for soups and stews,” Crager said.
While the main goal is soups and stews, Crager said that Loaves and Fishes will take any non-perishable food item. Donations by students who are not in the Department of Theatre can drop off food at the Gilmore Theatre Complex box office during office hours or put it in the large food donation crate in the atrium.