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| Student Initiated Project Purchases 721 meals for Star of Hope |
Last year, Brien O’Donal, Army veteran and political science major, discovered a surplus of $1,000 on his non-refundable flex dollar campus meal plan. Not wanting the money to go to waste, O’Donel devised a way to use the remaining balance to help those in need. As a result, the Flex Dollars for the Homeless Project was born.
The project, now in its second year, enables students to make a donation at the cafeteria register from the surplus balance on their campus flex-dollar accounts. Aramark applies the accumulated donations to preparing boxed meals consisting of a sandwich, chips, and fruit that are given to the Star of Hope to help feed homeless within the city.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, Houston has the third largest homeless population in the United States. More than 15,000 homeless people call the streets, abandoned buildings and alleys of Houston home. In the wake of the recent economic downfall, every bit counts.
This year, the project raised $7,523 which purchased 721 meals, which were delivered to the Star of Hope on May 18. Last year, the project raised $6,000.
Within the last two years, O’Donal has become a writer for the on-campus newspaper, assisted the political science honor society run their voter registration drive and assisted in organizing last year’s 9/11 memorial.
“Seeing that the amount of giving grew from last year I was overjoyed. It showed me that there is even greater potential for next year,” said O’Donal. “I am proud of what I was able to start but even prouder of all those who donated. If not for them there would be no charity. I am grateful for the Aramark staff who put in all the work to make the meals. I hope that what people get from this is that there are always opportunities to give and with a little effort you can accomplish great things.”