Video goes viral of students’ gift-giving to homeless
By Karen Fernau and Bob Romantic
GCU News Bureau
When Hannah Godfrey was a freshman at Grand Canyon University, her family in rural Kansas sent care bags for her to hand out to the homeless near campus.
They wanted her to continue the family tradition of giving.
Godfrey did, and promised to herself to repeat the act. A year later on President’s Day, the GCU sophomore and six friends made good on that promise.
Today, Godfrey’s Facebook video of their gift-giving adventure has gone viral, attracting nearly 10,000 hits and counting.
The attention is just what Godfrey, a GCU Honors College marketing and public relations major, had hoped.
“I wanted to share what we did to show that service is fun, not a burden. That’s why I made the video,” she said. “I posted it to encourage others to give like we did, with love and fun.”
The “we” includes GCU students Kenzie Granitz, Aubri Stough, Destinee Hurd, Michayla Morris, Maddie Lindahl and Cassandra Amador.
Throughout the video, the students are seen smiling, acting goofy, having a good time — and shedding a few tears. Together they spent nearly $100 and a handful of hours shopping, bagging and delivering 11 bags filled with food and toiletries to the homeless along Camelback Road and Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix.
“We wanted to bring awareness to what these people are going through,” Stough said. “It was special to each of us in a different way but we wanted to show you can reach out to others and have fun while doing it.”
While delivering the bags, Godfrey and friends forged a bond with those with no place to live.
“We discovered a whole new side to what friendship truly means,” Godfrey said. “We were able to hear some stories that brought us to tears. And we had the opportunity to pray with some of the many insightful, grateful people that we met.”
Several of the students have long held a soft spot for the homeless, especially former military veterans.
“The first veteran we came across, I got very emotional,” Lindahl said. “I like that we got to get to know them and actually hear their stories.”
The gift-giving team believes helping the homeless dovetails the University’s commitment to community service.
“We are definitely finding our purpose here at GCU,” Lindahl wrote on Facebook. “We would like to encourage everyone to take time out of your busy lives and serve your city. It will seriously impact your life more than you know.”
The seven women came up with the idea at an Honors College symposium.
“We were challenging ourselves to be active in the community,” said Granitz, a junior nursing major from Elkhart, Ind. “I grew up in a smaller town and, moving here to a city with a large population, it hit me hard that so many people were homeless.”
According to the Phoenix Rescue Mission, there are about 2,500 without homes in Maricopa County.
Amador had never done anything like this “but when Hannah asked, I said yes right away,” she said. “I really believe people should get out of their comfort zone. To get out there and pray with them and share their experience… I’m glad I did it.”
The response from family, friends and strangers has been overwhelming.
“We’ve had people offer money to help when we do it again” Godfrey said. “It’s really inspiring how many people are touched by the video.”
Contact Karen Fernau at (602) 639-8344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.