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Siegfried’s annual ‘Day of Man’ raises money for the homeless

| Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Shorts, a shirt, flip flops and a red solo cup is not the ideal outfit for a day when temperatures are expected to hover around 20 degrees. Nevertheless, residents of Siegfried Hall will don these articles of clothing on Wednesday in spite of the cold.

This unusual spectacle happens every February and is Siegfried’s signature event called “Day of Man,” an annual tradition where residents venture out into the cold in summer wear to raise money for the South Bend Center for the Homeless.

Observer File Photo
Siegfried Hall residents participate in the 2017 “Day of Man.” The event, in which residents go about their day wearing shorts, t-shirts and flip flops on a cold day, benefits the South Bend Center for the Homeless.

Senior and Siegfried Hall resident assistant Isaac Althoff is one of the event’s commissioners. This year‘s Day of Man is the twelfth iteration of the event.

“One time, 12 years ago, there was a resident that forgot his coat while rushing to class. On his way to class he thought, ‘Wow, this would really stink’ … and naturally thought about the homeless,” Althoff said.

Althoff said it was this one happenstance event that spurred the creation of the dorm‘s tradition. Althoff said the resident was so concerned about the homeless dealing with the harsh, cold conditions on a daily basis that he and his friends took up a collection. Now, 12 years later, the men of Siegfried continue this act of charity, walking around campus collecting donations in their red Solo cups.

“[The cold] kind of hits you when you walk outside,” Althoff said. “Some people definitely dread it, but there’s also so much excitement about it. This is our big event for the year. It goes back to what is your motivation at that point. We can manage a seven-minute walk to class, we’re not going to die from that. It may hurt a little bit, but the motivation is there.”

Senior Michael Hernick, another commissioner for the Day of Man, said the event is something the entire dorm looks forward to with anticipation. Hernick estimated that out of the 240 men that live in Siegfried, about 200 would participate. Since the event’s inception, Day of Man has raised over $100,000 for the South Bend Center for the Homeless.

“Our donations have slowly risen every year and just two years ago we went from $14,000 to $23,000,” Hernick said.

Junior and commissioner Patrick Davis has participated in the event since his freshman year. He said he was inspired to get more involved by the seniors who helped plan the event his first year.

“I was inspired by what these guys had put together,” Davis said. “They were seniors at the time and they had been doing it for a couple of years and each year they would break the record for how much money they raised.”

Every year, Siegfried residents can be easily spotted since they all sport the same T-shirt made specially for the signature event. This Wednesday, Siegfried residents can be seen trekking through the snow in bright pink.

“The key aspect of this year’s shirt that we kept from last year’s event is a prayer on the back that is a dedication to the homeless and those in need,” Davis said.

Davis said during his first year participating, he initially attempted to avoid the cold by walking into buildings. However, he said eventually the excitement and sense of unity took over.

“The cold isn’t really a factor, I’m more so just excited to be out there raising money with my dormmates,” he said.

Aside from walking around in shorts and T-shirts in the cold, Siegfried residents will also be standing in front of both dining halls during dinner times to collect money. They also have an online donation option and a Venmo account set-up.

Althoff said when he walked to class Monday morning the temperature was 3 degrees below zero. He said the weather reinforces the importance of their event during this time of year.

“Every person that does not have a home in South Bend needs to be inside, but this puts a strain on the center,” Althoff said. “This helps out a lot monetarily just so they can run on a daily basis in this extreme cold.”

Hernick said after the event commences, the commissioners go to the South Bend Center of the Homeless to personally deliver the check for the money raised. He said Siegfried has an established relationship with the organization, and every weekend residents of the dorm volunteer for a few hours to help with the homeless center needs, whether it be serving meals or helping sort clothes.

“They’re very grateful for all the work that we do, even if we don’t break the record,” Hernick said.

Davis said this on-going relationship with the center is a major factor motivating residents to ditch their parkas for a day every year.

“Realistically, any little bit helps,” Davis said. “Going out there and raising as much as we can is really enough for me. They don’t care too much about the numbers, they’re just thankful that we’re out there doing this for them and that really speaks to me.”

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About Selena Ponio

Selena Ponio is from Dallas, Texas and is currently a senior at the University of Notre Dame. She is the Associate News Editor for The Observer. Selena lives in Breen-Phillips hall and is majoring in International Economics with a concentration in Spanish and is minoring in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy.

Contact Selena