Students work to help homeless during holidays

By Aspen Gage

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With Thanksgiving around the corner, the UK Center for Community Outreach is focused on giving back for National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

With this week nationally dedicated to serving the hungry and homeless, Thursday is NHHAW Community Service Day in Lexington. 

UKCCO will be volunteering at the Hope Center, Arbor Youth Services and several other venues throughout Lexington.

Volunteers at the Catholic Action Center and the Hope Center will be serving meals to the homeless. Workers at God’s Pantry will help families navigate the lines to receive food and meals. And at SeedLeaf, Lexington’s community garden, volunteers will help rake and tend to the garden.

According to, there were 1,267 people documented as homeless in Lexington this year. The main theme surrounding the day of service is aiding the homeless in Lexington. 

“I volunteer because I feel it’s important to give back,” said Sydney Beidleman, a public health junior. “Specifically now, the holiday season, a lot of us have people to be with … the homeless don’t have that. It’s important to let them know that there are still people out there that care about them.” 

The National Homeless Coalition, established in 1981, partnered with University of Villanova students 40 years ago to create National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. According to its website, about 750 schools and community groups take part in the week. Adam Douglas, the UK coordinator for NHHAW, stressed the importance of giving year-round.

“This isn’t just an issue, these are actual people,” he said. “Imagine being in their shoes and not knowing where you’re going to sleep for the night … if you think about that you’re going to make more of a habit of helping out.”

UKCCO has been responsible for many needs-based programs  since 2002, organizing alternative service breaks that take students to different parts of the country and world to volunteer. It also runs the Big Blue Pantry, which provides food for those who deal with food insecurity and homelessness.

Interested volunteers can connect with UKCCO throughout the year by visiting or the group’s OrgSync page to sign up for service events.