Day of Man raises awareness, funds
Michael Fernandes | Wednesday, February 6, 2013
While most Notre Dame students scramble for their hats and scarves on snowy South Bend mornings, the men of Siegfried Hall will break out their summer wardrobes once again during today’s seventh annual Day of Man.
The Ramblers will sport shorts, flip-flops and pink T-shirts to raise awareness of homelessness and fundraise for the South Bend Center for the Homeless.
Senior Andrew Ritter, a co-commissioner of the event, said the Day of Man is a unique and rewarding opportunity for students to experience solidarity with people who lack basic living necessities.
“We are more than glad to be cold one day for those who are cold everyday,” he said. “It is our way of standing in solidarity with them and bringing awareness to the fact that a lot of people are not properly clothed and are having to live outside in this South Bend winter.”
Historically, Ritter said the event has been highly successful in terms of both student participation and fundraising, as well as in direct donations to the Center for the Homeless. Last year’s Day of Man brought in more than $5,000.
“Siegfried usually has about 175 out of the 240 men in the hall participate, and their efforts go along way in raising money,” Ritter said. “Truthfully, though, we hope to increase [donations] this year in order to contribute more to the Center.”
Junior co-commissioner Johnny Dang said aside from the tangible benefits the fundraiser provides for the Center for the Homeless, the event has an equally important effect on student participants.
“[Participants] come to understand that during this time of year a lot of people who are homeless are struggling to find warmth,” he said. “This is one day where they will learn to appreciate the things that they have … and how fortunate they are.”
Sophomore Taylor Roberts said he was initially hesitant about participating in the Day of Man, but he was ultimately satisfied with the experience.
“You always question yourself when your cup is empty and you’re walking out in the cold,” he said. “But once you get your first couple of dollars, it really sinks in that you’re doing a good thing.”
Despite the event’s benefits, Roberts said it is limited in terms of addressing the complexity of homelessness in a holistic manner.
“I admit that I don’t think you can feel the full effect [of homelessness],” he said. “There are so many other factors including the lack of food, the lack of shelter during even harsher conditions and often mental and physical illness.”
Though the Day of Man may not be an authentic proxy experience for homelessness, Roberts said it provides students with a new perspective on a real issue.
“The event does signify a big step forward in realizing some of the hardships that the homeless do experience while also extending a hand and making a difference,” he said.
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