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Students shed clothes to benefit homeless

Steve Kerins | Thursday, February 1, 2007

As temperatures plunge it becomes exceedingly rare to see a student sporting sandals, but onlookers should not be surprised to see sophomore Robbie Bernardin sprinting across campus in shorts and flip-flops today.

Bernardin will be joined by fellow Siegfried residents, including Hall president junior Tom Martin, in their parade against the harsh elements as part of the first annual Day of Man – an effort of solidarity intended to raise awareness of those who cannot afford a winter coat.

“[Bernardin] was doing a jog around campus wearing his shorts and a T-shirt and he said, ‘Hey, it’s cold out, but I feel pretty manly,'” Martin said.

It wasn’t long before Martin transformed his idea into an effort to aid those in need.

Bernardin and Martin posted a flyer in Siegfried asking residents to participate by agreeing to wear only shorts, flip-flops and the event’s T-shirt as they go about their business today.

The underdressed Ramblers will each carry a cup to solicit donations for the South Bend Center for the Homeless.

“We’re also setting up a booth in front of Siegfried,” Martin said. “We’re hoping that students will see what [we’re] doing and pitch in a few dollars to help the homeless.”

Today at 6 p.m. the Center for the Homeless will send a representative to give a presentation about the organization’s mission and accomplishments for Day of Man participants.

“We want for [participants] to get noticed by others, but also know what they’re benefiting and realize how blessed we are,” Bernardin said.

Bernardin said the Day of Man has received attention and support from the residence hall since its inception.

“There were almost 100 guys who signed up the first day,” he said. “Now it’s almost 120.”

Martin said Siegfried’s rector and hall staff also plans to participate in the Day of Man events.

“We’ve had a lot of support [from Siegfried’s staff],” Martin said. “It’s not just something the kids are doing, so that gives us hope.”

Sales for Bernardin’s Day of Man T-shirt have been high, and friends of participants – including many from other residence halls – have also been generous with moral and financial support.

“The word spread pretty quickly. For quite a while, Siegfried has been one of the manliest dorms on campus,” Martin said. “We wanted to get an event together to showcase our incredible manliness,” he said. “Once people heard about that, it kind of publicized itself.”

The Day of Man organizers also sent e-mails to service commissioners in each residence hall to let interested students know in advance the cause their contributions will support. Martin and Bernardin were both optimistic Wednesday for a positive reaction to the Day of Man on campus and hoped the event will continue in the future.

“We’d definitely like to try to make it at minimum an annual thing for Siegfried, and maybe campus-wide,” Martin said. “I think a big reason this event has really taken off is that there aren’t many things manlier than being cold and helping out the less fortunate.”

Bernardin agreed but cited the need for greater publicity to guarantee desired results.

“If it goes well this year, then we’ll be able to put out a bigger and better ad campaign next year,” he said.

Day of Man participants will be accepting donations for the South Bend Center for the Homeless throughout the day, and checks made out to Siegfried Hall with the memo “Day of Man” will be accepted in 100 Siegfried.