When Haskell Indian Junior College student Dan Davis lived in Topeka, he frequently saw homeless people in the capital city.
"I lived in a really bad part of town, and I used to see the homeless people all the time," Davis said.
So when Davis was approached about pitching in to serve a dinner at the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen, he definitely was interested.
Davis, a freshman who lives in Haskell's Osceola Hall, said he views the dinner "as a good chance to make somebody's life better."
About 200 other Haskell students, faculty and staff members are thinking along the same lines.
Dorothy Stites, a student resident assistant in Osceola Hall, is coordinating the dinner, which will be at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at First Christian Church, 10th and Kentucky. Stites said Thursday that she was encouraged by the response she received on campus when she started organizing the dinner.
VARIOUS CHURCHES and community groups in town staff LINK dinners, which are served Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and the last Friday of each month.
On March 10, Stites' church, Lawrence United Indian Methodist Church, was slated to serve the dinner but found itself short-handed. So Stites enlisted the help of students from the residence hall where she works. Several students volunteered, but because of classes, only five actually could participate.
"We came back and we were so happy," Stites recalled.
Based on their experience with that dinner, Stites and the other students started talking about organizing another meal. So they plugged in Haskell to take care of this Sunday's LINK dinner.
Stites said called the campus' response to the project "unbelievable."
"Those five guys became 10, 30, a hundred. . . . " she said. "There's just such unity."
THE STUDENTS involved in the project, which has incorporated all aspects of organizing a LINK dinner, including soliciting donations for food, are extremely sensitive to the problem of homelessness, she said.
Stites said the students returned to the dinner thinking "all we have to worry about is getting up and going to class." The people who were served at the dinner worry about finding clothing and getting food for their children, Stites said.
Gene Atauvich, a freshman who lives in Keokuk Hall, said homelessness is "still a serious issue."
"I think it's a continuing problem, and it still needs to be corrected," said Atauvich, who is from Kansas City, Mo.
Echoing Stites, Atauvich thinks the dinner will reflect positively on Haskell. Stites said there are "all kinds of benefits" from the project. Students involved will not receive work contribution hours for their participation, which Stites said illustrates their commitment and dedication to helping to make a difference.
HASKELL STUDENTS, who do not pay tuition or room and board, are required to complete a specified amount of work contribution hours each semester and help out around campus. For this project, the students are contributing their time, Stites said.
Students will meet Saturday to prepare the food for the dinner. Stites said leftover food either will be left in the LINK pantry or will go home with people served at the dinner.
"We don't want to come back with anything," Stites said.