At this point, some of you are still slogging through midterms, while others prep and polish research projects, and just a couple of you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and preparing for final exams. I understand completely that most of you have little time to spare at this time of the quarter and that taking little side trips just for the hell of it are not nearly as attractive as they were, say, week one or two. Don’t think that I sit here in ignorance of the constraints of college life, for I too juggle classes, work, a long-distance relationship and the impending doom of graduation. However, at this point in the quarter I want to sit you down for a bit of a plea, a “fire side chat” as it were.

I know that some of us, myself included, spend our time here at UCSB selfishly living out the “college lifestyle.” This lends itself to “driving fast and taking chances,” and we frequently do just that, ignoring the needs of those around us for a brief moment of fun. However, in this fleeting period of our lives we also find ourselves best poised to join as a community and help others, and for this week’s Escape From I.V., I urge you to do just that.

I’m not going to pitch you a sob story; this is certainly not going to be one of those Sarah McLachlan animal commercials that brings you to tears. However, I would like it if you would consider what I am sharing with you. I just got off the phone with Kerry Main Aller of the Santa Barbara Foodbank, who shared some interesting information with me.

As we all watched the economy tumble, people in our community and around the country saw their funds for food diminish quickly. As a result, the Santa Barbara Foodbank has seen a 20 to 30 percent increase in demand for their services.

There are three primary ways that you can get involved with and help out the Santa Barbara Foodbank. The most immediate need is help with the upcoming Hunger Study in Santa Barbara County. This study is a sort of census of the hungry and will seek to examine the needs and backgrounds of aid recipients. This is a particularly suitable job if you are a so-called “people person,” since volunteers need to go into the field and speak with people in order to collect the data. If you are interested, you need to contact the food bank ASAP, as the Hunger Study is due to begin next month.

Second, you can help at one of the two warehouse locations, either in Santa Barbara or Santa Maria, by sorting donated food. The food bank receives a variety of donated foods and needs each and every item sorted for safety reasons so that recipients receive food that isn’t rotten or irretrievably damaged.

Finally, you can get involved in this community or those around it by conducting food drives or recruiting people (and/or your rich uncle) to buy food for the bank through the organization’s Web site.

These three steps are just a small part of the plethora of opportunities that await those of you who choose to spend a tiny fragment of your week helping out. Whether you help out once or every day for the rest of your life, you will be contributing to a cause that serves our community in a way that most of us will never fathom. The food bank puts out 40,000 pounds of food per day and distributes it into the community through different member organizations. The only way that they will be able to continue to serve the people in need in this, our very own community, is with your help.