Hoops-4-Hunger raises funds for homeless shelter

Hoops-4-Hunger helped homeless women.

“No one deserves this. These are real people. There are a lot of people in this country who are one paycheck away from being on the streets. Homelessness is a growing problem,” said Sarah McGrail, public relations representative for Students Together Ending Poverty [STEP], a student run charitable organization at UM.

Hoops-4-Hunger was a fund-raising three-on-three basketball tournament organized by STEP, in conjunction with the Wellness Center Intramural Association. The event took place on 23rd March at noon in the Wellness Center.

“We wanted to generate awareness for the cause and basketball is something people play everyday,” said Mindy Sevnor, STEP chair.

The funds raised will be donated to Creative Beginnings, a shelter for homeless women and children, organizers said.

“One in four young women are out of a job and it is very difficult to get one without an address. The shelter provides them with one,” McGrail said.

“There are a lot of mothers and children who have nowhere to go. They are pushed by the wayside and not enough attention is being paid to them,” McGrail said. “The stories you hear out there are horrifying. Some of these women have actually been raped by policemen.”

“I wanted to help and be supportive since I don’t think our country’s paying enough attention to the cause,” said Kerrol Nelson, one of the players.

“Homelessness is an escalating problem. Even in Coral Gables which is an upscale part of Miami, poverty is seeping through. Just driving to UM, you will see homeless people,” Sevnor said.

The funds will be used by the shelter to provide food, clothing and a place to live for the homeless, organizers said.

“People are just coming up with band-aid solutions and not changing the way the government system works, which is the real problem,” Sevnor said.

“We need to fight misconceptions. Even in a place like UM, a lot of students have never been exposed to poverty,” McGrail said.

STEP organizes various on campus events such as the Hunger and Homelessness Week in the fall and visual events and writing campaigns on World Hunger Day coming up in April.

One upcoming event is “Give A Shirt,” where students are encouraged to donate old t-shirts to the poor.

“Even the little things count. Learn about the issues and don’t walk away. Some of our members keep McDonald’s coupons which they hand out to the poor. We need to stop and take notice,” McGrail said.

Co-sponsors for the event were the Biltmore Hotel, GNC, Hooligans and the Big Cheese. The admission fee was $20 and ten teams participated.

For more information on STEP and any of its upcoming events, contact Sarah McGrail, PR representative.

Event winners were awarded various prizes.

First prize was free massages at Rouge in the Grove, gift certificates from GNC and packages from Don Carters. Runners-up won $50 from Hooligans and one hour of free games at Gameworks.