Amidst the isolation of a newborn pandemic in 2020, Kailynn Jensen knew she had to find ways to stay connected to the outside world. A sophomore pre-med chemistry major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at the time of COVID-19’s emergence, Jensen set out to make a difference. She formed a Lincoln chapter for Medical students United with Neighbors across America, an Omaha-based med student-run philanthropic organization focused on community engagement and food distribution.
“I was like, ‘I want to do something,’” Jensen said. “I feel like a lot of people had a similar experience at the time, wanting to get involved and try to do something positive.”
Two years later, Jensen is now a senior and said the club continues their efforts toward increasing food accessibility across Lincoln, most notably for the city’s refugee population. The latest undertaking in that endeavor is an upcoming online Minecraft tournament that the club is hosting on Friday, March 4.
The charity tournament, which will be open to the public for anyone 18 or older, will charge a $5 entry fee in order to raise money towards culturally specific food donations to be distributed to parts of Lincoln’s refugee community.
The game mode, known as “Bedwars,” is a team survival game that pits four 4-player teams against one another. Each team is responsible for guarding a bed that serves as their base while attempting to destroy the other three teams’ beds.
This makes for a relatively straightforward and easy-to-pick-up game, according to Alex Kiihne, a freshman finance major at UNL who will be participating in the upcoming tournament. Kiihne has been playing Minecraft since 2012 and said that, aside from his familiarity with the game, he’s glad to support a worthy cause.
“I think I’ll mainly just have a good time, but I’m also really looking forward to it,” Kiihne said. “I was telling a few people ‘Hey, you should sign up. There’s a $5 entry fee, but it goes to a really good cause.’”
In addition to UNL students as well as their friends and families, Jensen said the tournament will host a few participants from all across the country, including Michigan and California. She said this was one of a few benefits of the event being completely online.
“Especially with COVID, we didn’t really want to make a bunch of people get together, and we felt like maybe the number of Nebraskan gamers was a little low for a tournament,” Jensen said.
Aside from the upcoming tournament, Jensen said the Lincoln chapter of MUNA has provided aid to 200 families in the past two years and is currently working closely with the Asian Community & Cultural Center, aiding refugees fleeing from crises such as the ongoing civil war and genocide in Burma.
Providing for those in need is a goal Jensen said she’s especially passionate about, but she sees what they’re doing as going beyond just meeting a need.
“I love [MUNA’s] mission. I love the way that they sort of focus on the cultural and actual needs of the people they’re serving and not just giving them a random box of food,” Jensen said. “One of the reasons I was so interested in this organization is because food insecurity was one of my family experiences growing up, and it would’ve been so helpful to have somebody ask me ‘Hey, what do you actually need?’”