June 17, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) For most people, sleeping bags are a temporary, somewhat comfortable bed occasionally used for camping trips and kids’ sleepovers. But for those without homes, a sleeping bag may be their only bed and the difference between lying on the cold ground each night or resting in relative comfort.
Toward meeting the needs of homeless individuals around the Riverside area, several La Sierra University students, known as Ordinary Radicals, decided to launch Project Foxhole, an effort to collect sleeping bags from campus staff and students. They held the sleeping bag drive over 10 days and by June 11 had stockpiled 53 bags. Students distributed them around town that day. Vanessa Delfino, a volunteer with the homeless food program at La Sierra University Church who knows many homeless individuals in the area brought the need to the students’ attention. “She inspired us to do this,” said Sterling Spence, a junior religious studies and business management major. “She told us one of the biggest needs was sleeping bags.” Spence and two friends, also La Sierra students, organized Ordinary Radicals.
Ordinary Radicals operates out of La Sierra’s Spiritual Life department. The students meet once a week to talk about what they can actively do to follow Christ. They formed during the spring quarter and took their name from a book titled “The Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne. “Radicals, coming from the word radish, or root, means getting back to the root of Christianity, and Ordinary, meaning anyone and everyone is called to do this,” explained graduate business student Jaylene Chung, one of the group’s founders. “Project Foxhole is just one of the many things we’d like to do on campus. We really want other students to feel empowered to start projects of their own,” she said.
Project Foxhole takes its name from Matthew 8:20 which says, “But Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.’”
As of June 7, Ordinary Radicals had collected 40 sleeping bags, many of which were piling up in student Nick Norton’s dorm room at Sierra Towers. The junior bio-health science major also initiated the group along with Spence and Chung. “It’s a call to non-complacent Christianity,” Norton said, and as such functions to connect the campus with the broader community.
Joshua Boyak, a junior English major inadvertently connected with the group through a friend. He liked Ordinary Radical’s project and mission and decided to help out. “I really love what these guys are doing and I’ve never looked back,” said Boyak.