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


In India, Saivijay Arra saw homeless families on the streets every day.

When he came to America, where he is working toward a master's degree in mechanical engineering at Old Dominion University, he was surprised by what he saw.

"I never thought the U.S. had homeless people," Arra said. "It's a rich country."

Arra wanted to help in India, but he didn't know where to start. An estimated 80 million people live in homelessness there.

At ODU, the group Global Student Friendship gave him a chance to lend a hand closer to campus.

After football and basketball games, concerts and other campus events, the student group's volunteers gather leftover concession stand food to donate to Union Mission Ministries in Norfolk as part of the Food for the Homeless program. More than 15,000 meals have been donated since Global Student Friendship partnered with ODU's food service provider, Aramark, and the school's Center for Service and Civic Engagement in January 2011.

Kurnia Foe, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering, founded the student group in 2005 to help bridge the gap between local and international students. When the university reached out to students to help with leftover food donations, Foe jumped at the opportunity. He saw it as a chance to not only aid the community, but also broaden international students' perspectives of America.

"It's providing them a way of serving in the U.S. and inspiring them to bring about change when they go back home," said Foe, who is from Indonesia.

More than 100 volunteers representing 20 countries have volunteered, he said. The average event yields enough to feed 300 people for several days.

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