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University to launch Better Together Syracuse community service initiative

September 08, 2011

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-3784

Better Together for 9/11 is a national initiative for students on campuses around the country to take action and improve their communities. This year, student leaders within the Interfaith Student Council at Hendricks Chapel have brought the Better Together campaign to Syracuse University (Better Together Syracuse) and have chosen the local and global issue of hunger as their community service challenge.

The Better Together for 9/11 program was inspired by family members of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, who began to encourage others to engage in acts of community service as a tribute to their lost loved ones, and as a constructive way to recapture the spirit of compassion and unity that swept the nation following the attacks. Since 2002, these family members have mobilized people nationwide to engage in acts of community service. In 2009, President Barack Obama officially designated Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance and Better Together Syracuse is the University’s response to this day.

As the first of several educational and action projects planned throughout the year, Better Together Syracuse has initiated a canned food collection that will benefit the Interreligious Food Consortium, which distributes to more than 70 food pantries in Central New York. Students are asked to donate canned soup, beans, fruit, tuna, peanut butter and pasta. All of these goods are stocked and available this week in the SU Bookstore in the Schine Student Center and can be donated in the Schine from 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. and in the dining halls during posted dinner hours.

The official launch of Better Together Syracuse will take place on Sunday, Sept. 11, during the University’s eighth annual Juice Jam, which is traditionally held each year on the Sunday after Labor Day. Through a collaboration between University Union and Hendricks Chapel, Juice Jam has been designated as a benefit concert, with a portion of the concert’s proceeds going to the United Nations’ World Food Programme for hunger relief in the Horn of Africa. Concert-goers are also asked to bring canned food donations to Sunday’s concert for more event memorabilia.

“We are proud to launch Better Together on Sept. 11 as part of the National Day of Service and Remembrance. We hope to recapture the spirit of unity and compassion that swept our nation following the attacks through our campus-wide initiative to combat hunger in our community and around the world,” says Tiffany Steinwert, dean of Hendricks Chapel. “What better way to pay tribute to those who were lost than to create a living legacy through community service? Better Together bridges the differences that threaten to divide us and unites us in a common cause. Indeed, we are better together!”

“I believe the Better Together campaign will change the culture of service on campus,” says Azhar Ali, a junior, a member of the Interfaith Student Council and president of the Muslim Student Association. “It provides students with an opportunity to put aside their perceived differences and unite through common action for the common good.”

SU’s Division of Student Affairs will host a student involvement fair throughout Juice Jam, where students can sign up to take part in future service opportunities across the city and region.

Better Together Syracuse is one of 300 campaigns occurring at colleges and universities across the country that is participating in the Presidential Interfaith and Community Service Challenge, and the Interfaith Student Council at Hendricks Chapel is organizing the University’s initiative. Events throughout the year will include participation in the CROP Walk in October and conversation and other planned events around the issue of hunger.

“Better Together creates a great sharing opportunity on campus and in the community. It is a way to start building connections on campus and to use these connections to benefit the community through service together,” says Rachel Tjornehoj, a senior and member of the Interfaith Student Council.

“I see Better Together as being a campaign that is not only important on our college campus, but a campaign that can better prepare students for the real world. We live in a country of different backgrounds, traditions and faiths and I believe there no better way to unite people then the action of working for the common good,” says  junior Ismail Pathan, a member of the Interfaith Student Council and vice president of the Muslim Students’ Association.

To get involved in the Better Together Syracuse campaign, join the conversation on Facebook at Better Together Syracuse.

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