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The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Students Spread Love and Battle Stigma for Valentine’s Day

The+cards+will+be+sent+on+Valentine%E2%80%99s+Day.
Courtesy of Torie Combs
The cards will be sent on Valentine’s Day.

Sharing love this holiday season, residents gathered to prepare a special gift for Huntington’s unsheltered community on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

Cards for Humanity, an event hosted by resident advisor Torie Combs, gave students the opportunity to create Valentine’s Day cards that will be donated to the Huntington City Mission, an establishment that provides meals and shelter for homeless individuals.

“I wanted to kick off the semester with something meaningful for students to do,” Combs said. “I knew that, for my first event, I wanted to incorporate Valentine’s Day and find a way to help the homeless.”

A social work major, Combs has recently learned more about housing insecurity and the factors behind it in her classes, which gave her the inspiration for this event.

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“There is a general stigma that the homeless did this to themselves and deserve to be on the street when that is not the case,” Combs said. “I wanted to shine a light on that stigma to my residents and the students on campus that surrounds the people in our community who struggle with homelessness.”

Mitch Webb, the executive director of the Huntington City Mission, said Combs’ event was important for several reasons.

“One is it’s great for the people who will receive them to know that someone in the outside world cares enough about them to do something like that,” Webb said. “But I think it’s equally important to the people who are actually making, buying or sending the valentines.”

“When you start to invest in people, then we’re less likely to be critical, and there’s that much less stigma that has to be broken; we start to really have a connection with people,” he said.

Combs aimed to make this connection through her cards, with her intentions being for the recipients “to understand that there are people who empathize with their situation and that they are more than just a label.” 

Webb said negatively labeling the homeless community is a common mistake in society. 

“These are our sons and daughters; they’re our moms and dads; there are kids who played football with your kids or were in band with your kids,” he said. “We need to strike the phrase ‘those people’ from our vocabulary because, truthfully, it’s us – that’s who they are.” 

Established in 1939 as a soup kitchen, the Mission now has five main programs – shelter, feeding, spirituality, donations and mental health – that are in place to provide for Huntington’s homeless population. 

For students looking to give back like Combs, Webb said there are opportunities to help without spending any money; the Mission is currently looking for volunteers to read to their resident children and to serve meals to the community, having served 245,000 meals last year. 

   As for donations, the shelter is most in need of blankets for their coldest season, but they are always in need of bedding, towels, underwear  and socks. Donations can be dropped  off at 624 10th St., Huntington, West Virginia. 

This week, the Mission will host its largest fundraiser, the “Where Hope Begins Benefit Auction,” from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8, at New Baptist Church. Students interested in other volunteering opportunities with the Mission can contact their office at (304) 523-0293.

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About the Contributor
Baylee Parsons, Copy Editor
Baylee Parsons is a sophomore from Wayne, West Virginia, double-majoring in English and journalism. A proud member of the grammar police, she serves as The Parthenon’s copy editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing and spending time with friends and family. She also participates in local musical theatre. She intends to use her time at The Parthenon to help her pursue a career in book, newspaper or magazine editing.
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