In Multnomah County, the homeless population has increased by around 10 percent in the last two years. Although there is increasing demand for help, there are simply not enough resources. In Portland, nearly one in seven residents experience food insecurity and in the last two years the Oregon Food Bank distributed over one million emergency food boxes.
With nearly 4,177 people with no permanent housing on any given night, it’s clear that something needs to be done. However, help is often seasonal and citizens primarily help around winter and Christmas when people are in the “giving mood.” Although the demand for space in homeless shelters is much higher at this time due to the cold weather, more attention needs to be drawn to this issue in the other months of the year. There is so much that people can do to get involved, at very little or no cost to themselves, even if it’s as little as having a conversation with someone.
With so many students together, schools have the opportunity to raise a significant amount of money. Franklin co-class president, Clara Mays says, “all you have to do is pay attention to the ways you are impacting your community and help out when you can.” Not only can students donate, volunteer work is a graduation requirement and there are constant vacancies at food shelters. Getting involved is easy; if you can’t donate money or volunteer you can give your old clothing, any canned food you don’t need, or advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. “Students just need to be better informed about the options they have to get involved,” says Mays. For more information about how to help, visit the Oregon Food Bank or any local homeless shelter in your area.