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Arlington groups aim to reduce poverty

 The following opinion piece, which includes news, was written by Lenna Iskenderian, an Arlington resident attending Elon University in Elon, N.C. She is an an intern for the Borgen Project, a Seattle-based nonprofit that fights poverty. 

Over the years, Arlington has become a town of globally engaged citizens, aware of their privilege and wishing to make a change in the lives of those with less. From its churches to its schools, many have taken it upon themselves to catalyze change through various programs, trips and organizations.

According to the Borgen Project, the number of people suffering from hunger is greater than the population of the United States, Canada and the European Union combined. The nonprofit estimates that number at more than 850 million people.

Additionally, almost 3 billion people lack access to toilets, and almost 1 billion lack access to clean drinking water.

Although Arlington residents have found different routes of action, the overarching goal is clear -- end the suffering.

At Arlington High School, the Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND) club was founded almost 15 years ago in response to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan

The STAND club now continues to raise funds and advocate for humanitarian aid, especially regarding the war in Syria, through annual events, such as the Battle of the Bands, held at the Regent Theatre in the winter.

“Although we don't know exactly what programs our donation goes toward, we know that we can help numerous children in need,” said STAND President Jenny Jordahl. The club raises around $2,000 from the Battle of the Bands every year.

“The concert is always extremely successful, and it is so heartening to know how many students came out to support this fabulous organization,” said Jordahl.

Another Arlington resident, Bethany Eisenberg, is in close partnership with the Guatemala Aid Fund. Eisenberg emphasizes that it is Guatemalans themselves who know what is most needed in their communities.

“Our focus is on long-term education programs that are run by Guatemalans,” said Eisenberg. “We strive to create safe places for abandoned children to grow up with respect.”

Eisenberg and her team also place importance on opportunities for future self-sufficiency and love within the Guatemalan community.

Arlington offers many ways to get involved in the fight against world poverty. Other organizations include the Arlington Rotary Club, Operation Rice Bowl, and the Lost Boys of Sudan.

Whether one is a student or a senior, it is worth exploring the town’s multiple facets of social responsibility.

This viewpoint was published Wednesday, June 13, 2018.

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