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Students brave cold for Center for the Homeless

Nicole Toczauer | Thursday, February 10, 2011

Facing one of the coldest days of the year in only sandals, shorts and T-shirts, men of Siegfried Hall walked to class, stood in front of buildings and collected donations for South Bend’s Center for the Homeless.

Sophomore Andrew Ritter, Siegfried Hall president and coordinator for the Day of Man, said this annual event has allowed the men of Siegfried Hall to stand in solidarity with the homeless since 2007.

“By standing with the homeless for a day, even though it’s not nearly what they go through the entire year, it creates waves on campus,” he said. “When you see a guy walking around in minimal clothing on a day with a negative one [degree] for a low, you notice. We’re showing our support for the South Bend community.”

This year 200 of Siegfried’s 248 residents participated, Ritter said, demonstrating strength and humility.

“It’s the toughness of being able to say you can stand in that weather, but for the right reasons,” he said. “We stand outside of DeBartolo Hall and North and South Dining Hall with cups that people drop money into.”

Freshman Michael Harvey said that, despite the cold, he finds encouragement from other Notre Dame students.

“I’ve learned how cold negative 15 [degree] wind chill is and that I’ve noticed a 5 degree increase in temperature since the morning,” he said. “Your fingers and toes go numb as you walk from Siegfried to DeBartolo, but people are supportive which makes it a lot better.”

Lisa Knox, a representative from the Center for the Homeless, said the organization and its guests appreciate the time these men dedicate to raising money.

“We think these guys are stellar. The fact that they’ve done this unique fundraising is really humbling,” Knox said. “Their impact is great and the money they raise for the shelter is critical, but most importantly, they raise awareness of our organization and its volunteer opportunities.”

Siegfried residents also continue to collect money after the Day of Man. E-mails sent to friends and family bring in contributions, Ritter said, and the dorm ends collections around the end of February.

“If people just want to make a check to the Center for the Homeless and send it to our rector [Fr.] John Conley, then we’d be more than happy to take donations any time during February,” he said. “But donations to the Center for the Homeless are always more than welcome.”

Knox said the Center also welcomes students to volunteer and become involved in the organization.

“Peter Lombardo, our director of community involvement, coordinates outreach on campus. If you want to volunteer, contact him or you can visit us online at cfh.net,” she said. “I would encourage anyone to help us or to check their local organizations and see what they can do.”