GW students gathered on the stairs of J Street Saturday morning, grasping cups of coffee, soaking in the unusually warm autumn weather and preparing for the annual three-mile Homeless Walkathon.
A lot of people are wrapped up in their own lives sometimes, said sophomore Harrison Wilder as he waited for members of his InterVarsity Christian Fellowship team to leave for the walk. Their team gathered pledges of money for the Gospel Rescue Mission, a shelter and counseling center for the homeless.
Sometimes all it takes is just a smile, Wilder said. Or a five dollar bill.
Students were divided into teams and were encouraged to raise money for a designated association that caters to homeless issues. Each team identifies an agency for which they are walking and the Fannie Mae Foundation, the Walkathon’s organizer, matches the funds.
The walk began at Freedom Plaza near the White House. Students sang songs and shared stories, but their three-mile trek symbolized a more serious effort – their effort to make a difference.
Freshman Alice Lingo, who was walking with her sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma, said the sorority raised $35 a person for My Sister’s Place, a battered women’s shelter.
Being a sorority, we thought it would be a good idea, sophomore and sorority member Danielle Diaz said.
Other teams included the Indian Students Association, which walked for Martha’s Table, and the members of the first-year development program for the School of Business and Public Management, which walked to raise money for the general cause of homelessness.
The Office of Community Service helped the student teams, encouraging students to participate in the walk.
We’re really excited about GW’s involvement, said Amiko Matsumoto, director of the Office of Community Service.
Jeff Marootian, community service director for the College Democrats, said the walk helps combat a problem that GW students are faced with everyday.
Homelessness is a significant part of our culture, he said. It is something everyone has seen.