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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Organization Global Student Friendship Runs Furniture Drive

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Advanced education degrees can be challenging enough.

Add to that immersion in a brand-new country and the graduate student journey can be truly daunting.

Global Student Friendship, a faith-based student organization founded at Old Dominion University in 2005, helps international students at the University and in the region in many ways, including a very tangible one: helping to locate and deliver needed household furnishings.

One of the key service projects run by Global Student Friendship, the furniture drive has helped make students studying in Hampton Roads a little more comfortable in their new homes.

Three weekends each month throughout the fall semester, the organization's volunteers pick up furniture donations from local churches and other contributors, and deliver it to Hampton Roads apartments where international students live.

"We have served more than 5,000 American and international students, mostly internationals, as well as visiting scholars and their families," said Kurnia Foe, an ODU alumnus who is the founder and former director of Global Student Friendship.

In addition to contributions from individuals, churches and community groups, donations have included mattresses from Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and study desks and bedroom sets from the United States Air Force, Foe said.

The group estimates that more than $500,000 in furniture and moving costs have been saved by international students during the decade the program has been in operation.

The tally includes more than 1,500 mattresses and linens, 300 couches, 1,000 chairs, 200 study tables, 200 dining room tables and thousands of assorted kitchen utensils. Deliveries have also included bicycles, electronics and winter clothing, to help students make the adjustment to life here.

Donations are picked up throughout the summer and furniture is held free of charge in storage units donated by local churches. Deliveries occur three Saturdays per month through the fall, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Pickup or deliver can be arranged for weeknights if necessary.

Volunteers include members of local church congregations, and international students at Old Dominion University, many of whom have received furniture donations.

New students seeking to access the generosity of local donors, and the hard work of Global Student Friendship volunteers, should email their request to gfsodu@gmail.com with the following information: their address, telephone number and items needed.

Volunteering for the program is open to anyone in the Old Dominion University community. Contact gsfodu@gmail.com to volunteer, or donate to the program.

Global Student Friendship has partnerships with the University's Office of Intercultural Relations; Indian Student Association; Chinese Student and Scholar Association; the Old Dominion University Office of Alumni Relations; and church and faith groups from around Hampton Roads.

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