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Ramblers brave cold to raise money

Irena Zajickova | Friday, February 6, 2009

Even though the temperature in South Bend dropped below freezing yesterday, approximately 150 Siegfried residents braved the frigid weather to spend the day wearing nothing but shorts and T-shirts.

They were participating in Siegfried’s third annual “Day of Man” fundraiser, where Ramblers stand outside in inadequate clothing for the weather to raise money for South Bend’s Center for the Homeless.

A group of students stood near the LaFortune Student Center, holding plastic cups and imploring passerby to donate money to the homeless shelter.

Participants could also be seen in dining halls and classroom buildings, carrying their plastic cups around and wearing shirts that said “Man Up” to explain that they were participating in the dorm event.

The project’s coordinator, Robbie Bernardin, said that the fundraiser has raised about $6,000 per year in past years.

Bernardin, now a senior, came up with the idea when he was a sophomore. He decided to walk from Siegfried Hall to Farley Hall to visit a friend while wearing only shorts and a T-shirt, and decided that the idea had potential to become a way to raise money for charity.

“It felt really manly and I felt we could make it into a dorm event and raise money,” Bernardin said. “It just kind of took off from there.”

Siegfried residents have varied reasons for participating, but many underdress simply to feel a sense of pride by helping others.

Sophomore Bobby Schafer said that he decided to participate in the event because he wanted to help raise money for a worthy cause.

“It seemed like a good cause, and everyone always tells me I don’t wear enough layers,” Schafer said. “So why not do it for the homeless?”

This is Schafer’s second year participating in Day of Man, and he said that knowing he is doing a good deed makes it easier to tolerate the cold weather.

“I’m very happy about my decision,” Schafer said. “The cold is more bearable when you have a reason to endure it.”

Schafer said that he thinks that it is easier to get donations when students passing by see how much of a sacrifice Siegfried residents are making.

“The pity factor gets a lot of donations,” Schafer said. “We also remind them that any donation at all is welcome, no matter how small.”

In the past, Day of Man has received coverage from local news stations and has even been featured in BusinessWeek magazine, in a piece about innovate college philanthropy.

Bernardin said that the reason the fundraiser received so much press is because many people have never seen anything else like it.

“It’s unique,” Bernardin said. “It’s something no one else has ever done before.”