Westfield State University students launch campaign to raise awareness, money for Northampton’s Manna Community Kitchen locker program

Nov 29, 2021
WSU Globe

Westfield State University public relations students are launching a campaign, Secure a Lock on Homelessness, to raise awareness and support for the locker program of Manna Community Kitchen in Northampton.

Events—featuring games and raffles, with prizes such as Apple AirPods, a Yeti tumbler, and more—will be held:  

  • Dec. 4, noon to 5 p.m., Target, Holyoke Mall; 
  • Dec. 7, 9 a.m. to noon, Dunkin’, Ely Campus Center, Westfield State, 577 Western Ave.; and 
  • Dec. 9, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Tim & Jeanne’s Dining Commons, Westfield State. 

The Instagram- and Facebook-based public awareness campaign will take place via the handle @secure.a.lock.on.homelessness and use the hashtags #DollarsForLockers, #LockOnHomelessness, and #DonateToSecure.

A non-profit organization founded in 1986, Manna Community Kitchen provides hot meals and a comforting place of rest to those in need.  Its recently created locker program aims to help the unhoused population by providing a safe place for them to secure their personal belongings free of charge. Personal storage space was one of the most requested items among the individuals in Northampton’s unhoused population during Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz’s workgroup report, published in 2019, according to Manna. As of today, all 24 lockers are filled and Manna has a waiting list of unhoused individuals wishing for one. The organization hopes to add more lockers soon.  

“Manna Community Kitchen is primarily focused on serving those in the community who face hunger and food insecurity with hot, nutritious, and delicious meals. However, a secondary—and equally important—mission is to improve the lives of those experiencing housing, financial and/or food insecurity by offering tools and resources that nourish, aid, educate, and support guests to achieve more stability, security, and self-sufficiency,” said Manna Executive Director Kate Cordoso.

There are an estimated 546 homeless individuals in Hampshire County, according to homelessshelterdirector.org. By the end of 2020, Manna had served 44,783 meals to those in need.

“This Westfield State Communication Department course partners with a local non-profit each semester in an effort to help the community through its civic engagement program,” said Westfield State Adjunct Professor of Communication Suzanne Boniface. “These public relations students use the skills they have acquired from their studies and gain practical experience for their future careers.”  She added that she hopes her students’ campaign to raise funds and awareness of the locker program will help fund another set of lockers for Manna.

If you have questions or want to learn more about the campaign, email Professor Boniface at sboniface@westfield.ma.edu. For those in need of support, contact Manna at 413-584-1757.