Central New York, Feature

Two Le Moyne Students Honor A Family That Changed Their Lives

Sophomores Sarah Touey and Moira McCarthy have been participating in homelessness awareness activities on campus and are preparing for the Great Syracuse Sleep-Out. © 2015 Elissa Candiotti

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By Elissa Candiotti SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) —“There’s a family that we met when we went to West Virginia on a service immersion trip last year,” Le Moyne College sophomore Sarah Touey said. “We went inside the house and said, ‘Can we just grab some water?’ and the mother said, ‘We’re sorry. We don’t have any running water or electricity.’”

It was a moment of disbelief and revelation for Touey and sophomore Moira McCarthy. The two best friends have been determined to make a difference in the community ever since.

The Syracuse community has honored National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week with five days worth of events, one of which was the Great Syracuse Sleep-Out at Le Moyne College. Community members and students spent Friday, Nov. 20 bundled in sleeping bags and blankets on the Dablon Quad to raise awareness of homelessness in Onondaga County.

For Touey and McCarthy, it wasn’t a question whether or not they should get involved. It was a given. The two best friends decided to bear the frigid temperatures to honor a homeless family that changed their lives.

“I took a risk by going on the trip and really fell in love with the mission and the hands-on activities of helping other people,” Touey said.

McCarthy said the week-long immersion trip through Le Moyne College exposed her to cities she’s never seen before. More importantly, she says it was a major wake-up call.

“It was just a totally different side of the United States,” McCarthy said. “You come on campus and everybody’s got some sort of money and basic income and these people struggle to feed themselves.”

The immersion trip was just the start for Touey and McCarthy. Together, they helped re-establish a Habitat for Humanity club at Le Moyne and became co-presidents last year.

Local residents and Le Moyne College students will sleep in tents and blankets on the Dablon Quad. © 2015 Elissa Candiotti

The Rescue Mission teamed up with Le Moyne College to plan the Great Syracuse Sleep-Out. © 2015 Elissa Candiotti