Nursing students collect sleeping bags for the homeless

Nursing Students set a table and donating sites to collect
sleeping bags to help the homeless in Fresno.
Alejandra Garcia / The Collegian

Fresno State nursing students are teaming up with The Sleeping Bag Project of Fresno to bring awareness to students about the homeless community by holding a donation drive on campus now through Friday, Nov. 18.

Each semester, Fresno State nursing students participate in a project to help an area of need in the Fresno community. This semester a group of nursing students are helping to promote “The Sleeping Bag Project” donation drive as their class project.

“They are to find and meet one identifiable need in the community,” professor of community health nursing Dr. Ndidi Griffin said. “They collaborate with an agency to make sure they identify [a legitimate] need and based on that, they design a project.”

The Sleeping Bag Project of Fresno is a non-profit, volunteer effort sponsored by the Fresno Free College Foundation. Their mission is to provide sleeping bags and blankets to the homeless during the winter months.

“Homeless people are outside 24 hours a day until the cold season ends. Our goal is to decrease the health issues they would encounter from their old sleeping bags and blankets,” Fresno State nursing student Junrel Sumagang said.

While the donation drive is primarilly focused on collecting gently used sleeping bags and blankets, Fresno State student nurse Cristen Collier said they would accept other donations.

“We’re not opposed to other donations and we’ll take any type of donation that is going to provide warmth,” Collier said.

Griffin explained the nursing students will benefit from the project both personally and professionally.

“These students will have just one more semester before they graduate and I think this experience will go out with them throughout their entire career,” Griffin said. “They typically come back in awe and they are no longer sheltered to the needs of the community.”

For these nursing students, the donation drive is more than just a class project.

“[Our goal is] to increase awareness of the very real and pervasive problem of homelessness in our community,” Fresno State nursing student Derek Greenwood said. “The problem affects all types of people [including] families, children, even some Fresno State students.”

Greenwood’s awareness to the homeless community stems from personal experience.

“I was homeless twice in my life. Once for four months in New York City where I was lucky enough to get into a shelter and once for four months when I lived in Colorado,” Greenwood said. “I lived on the streets. It was cold.”

Professor Griffin also explained that the project helps nursing students develop professional careers and responsibilities that accompany the profession.

“It’s a way of demonstrating the fact that they actually care what happens to other people. It’s a part of their role as a nurse to care for other people,” Griffin said.

Student nurse Patricia Saulog said the donation drive is a way for Fresno State students to get involved in the community this holiday season.

“This would be a great way to share our blessings with others and to not only provide physical but emotional warmth during the holidays,” Saulog said. “Our general goal is to get as many [sleeping] bags and blankets as possible to donate before the holidays.”

The Sleeping Bag Project is presented by the Fresno State Chapter of the California Nursing Student Association. Drop boxes are located in the Nursing Resource Center, McLane 183 and the Smittcamp office, McLane 200. Donations can be dropped off until Nov. 18.

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