A driving force behind efforts to feed needy

Deborah Marshall helps a local church collect food to feed homeless visitors.

Deborah Marshall (left) coordinates efforts to donate food to Berean Presbyterian Church, something she’s done since noticing a lack of available provisions. | ABI REIMOLD TTN
Deborah Marshall (left) coordinates efforts to donate food to Berean Presbyterian Church, something she’s done since noticing a lack of available provisions. | ABI REIMOLD TTN

After walking past Berean Presbyterian Church at the corner of Broad and Diamond streets with a sign out front that read “No Food Today,” Deborah Marshall, director of faculty and academic affairs for the School of Media and Communication, said she knew she had to make a change. 

“The sign absolutely disturbed me,” Marshall said. “And seeing the disappointed looks on [the faces of passersby] made me sad.”

Marshall decided to take matters into her own hands by running a food drive within SMC to help feed the homeless and needy patrons at the church. Three boxes were set up for people to put food in.

The donations were anonymous to encourage participation from both staff and students during the drive. Marshall and Assistant Dean for Administration Donald Heller said they were pleased with the results. Most of the donations came from Professor Amy Caples’ senior seminar class, Heller said.

“We promoted this event as much as we could,” Heller said. “We sent emails, posted signs, anything that was creative. Creativity was the encouragement.”

The food drive, which lasted a week and a half, made Marshall and Heller confident they’d be able to assist the church in addressing the issues Marshall noticed.

“The one goal we have is plain and simple: to feed people,” Heller said.

The SMC drive collected about 600 pounds of food to feed those in need who rely on the church’s charity. Although Marshall said she was excited to donate the goods, she realized the church was struggling to provide meat in particular, something of concern to her. Since meat is perishable, it’s something the church pantry struggles to provide regularly. Marshall said she hopes to eventually help to provide it to promote nutritional meals.


Heller said this is the first time he’s helped organize a drive, but he’s previously participated in similar fundraisers by donating canned goods around the holidays or whenever his local churches and schools were holding them.

“Every time there is a drive and I would go grocery shopping, I would buy a few extra things to set aside for donations, or I would get the extra food I have in my cabinets since they last a while,” Heller said.

Heller also said hunger and similar issues can often be pushed to the wayside on campus and in the city in general because of the busy lifestyles most people in an academic environment have.

“You can get blinded when you are caught up doing a lot of stuff,” Heller said.

He said when Marshall showed him the sign that had affected her, he was immediately convinced to contribute to her cause.

Due to the success of their first food drive, Marshall and Heller plan to have more throughout the semester. They said they plan to have three or four drives a year, and said they hope to be able to collect some cash contributions as well.

“If more people will help out a little bit, it would go really far,” Heller said. “One [dollar] can could go a long way in feeding people.”

The pair also want to have a clothing donation and to help establish a mentoring program for the church members. Heller said he hopes they have brought more comfort and less worrying to the community.

“It is a good feeling to know the people of the church will not be hungry,” Heller said.

Karlina Jones can be reached at karlina.jones@temple.edu. 

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