For the month of November, a collaborative Food Drive with various campus ministries will be collecting food for the Good Samaritan Ministries of Johnson City.

The participating ministries include the Campus House, The BCM, The Wesley, Young Life, The Well, Cru, Lutheran Student Movement, Intervarsity and The Journey.

For Thomas Cook, ETSU senior and lead coordinator of the Food Drive, the idea for a collaborative service project among the various campus ministries has been stirring in the back of his mind for quite awhile.

“This is something that I’ve been thinking about since I came to ETSU two years ago after transferring from a community college,” Cook said. “I really wanted to see something collaborative with all of the different ministries, I just didn’t know how to go about it.”

Cook initially became involved with The Journey, an off campus ministry, but has since participated with The Wesley Center, The Well and the BCM.

After building contacts and becoming more involved with campus ministries, the idea was presented to him to host a collaborative food drive.

“I wanted to unify the body of believers here on campus, but I also wanted to help people realize that they can serve right where they are,” said Cook. “A lot of times there is this notion that we have to travel to these far off places to make a difference, but it’s important to remember that we are a place here, and there’s a great need here with the high percentage of homelessness, especially among the youth.”

According to the National Healthcare for the Homeless Council, there is an estimated 800 homeless people in the areas of Washington and Hancock counties.

“Lots of times we don’t like to jump in and get our hands dirty and accept the fact that there is a big problem where we are because it’s hard to deal with,” he said. “But I’m really optimistic about it all because I’m realizing that people are actually going to be giving much more than I had planned for. I’ve really just been blown away by how much has already been donated.”

Students looking to donate food can either go to one of those ministries each week at their meeting place where they will have bins set up to donate food.

For students not affiliated with any campus ministry, they can also donate food by taking it to a booth that will be set up in the Culp Center next to Taco Bell on Mondays and Tuesdays from 11 to 3 p.m.

“On Dec. 10, we are going to be having a unified worship service among the ministries, and we’ve reserved the Culp auditorium for that,” he said.  “It’s going to be a stripped down acoustic service with all of the different ministries just engaged in worship together to kind of celebrate the Food Drive and just connect with each other some more.”

Cook hopes that this can turn into an annual Food Drive among the ministries to help serve the Johnson City community and work to reduce the issues of poverty and homelessness in the area.

“So far there’s been such a large response and everyone has shown a lot of excitement with participating. That’s where I feel like the Lord is already working in people’s hearts,” he said.

“What I’m noticing is that so many people are just waiting for that opportunity to help and serve others.”