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October 11, 2018
Service program helps area hungry, homeless population
MILWAUKEE — Marquette University's Midnight Run celebrates 30 years on campus this October. The student service program, which is organized by a coordinating team of 29 Marquette students under the supervision of the university's Campus Ministry office, has been dedicated to helping the hungry and homeless population in the Milwaukee community since 1988.
In honor of the anniversary, the group served guests at a special Noon Run meal service on Saturday, Oct. 6, as a part of Marquette's Reunion + Homecoming events. Noon Run is Midnight Run's original service site, which is currently at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Sunday through Friday. Instead of a traditional buffet-style meal, alumni volunteers worked as service staff, bringing food to guests at tables.
"After 30 years, we know that Midnight Run has not been successful in eliminating the effects of poverty, but we have been faithful to accompany those who struggle in our community with compassion and care," said Gerry Fischer, associate director of campus ministry, adding that the program's importance is underscored in a famous St. Teresa of Calcutta quote: "God does not call us to be successful, He calls us to be faithful."
Midnight Run was founded by two Marquette students after they attended the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness conference at Harvard University. In its first year, the volunteer service program consisted of about 20 students; 285 students now participate in Midnight Run.
Today, Midnight Run serves 19 local meal programs and shelters, including St. Ben's, The Gathering, Casa Maria and Vets Place Central. Fischer estimates that about 8,000 volunteers have participated in Midnight Run over the years, totaling about 33,000 volunteer hours per year.
The group also partners with United Way to coordinate Project Homeless Connect, the annual resource fair for Milwaukee's homeless community. The event has been held on Marquette's campus for the past eight years and provides free services such as dental and vision exams, haircuts, legal assistance, and employment resources to about 450 attendees. Marquette President Michael R. Lovell will speak at the 2018 Project Homeless Connect event on Thursday, Oct. 18.