Students walk for homeless

Hundreds of GW volunteers worked behind the scenes in addition to walking at the 15th annual Help the Homeless Walk Saturday, making GW the only District-area “partner” in the walk. Organized by the Office of Community Service, the University provided students to register walkers and participate in the event.

About 400 GW students walked along a set path Saturday morning from the National Mall to Union Station, up to Capitol Hill and then back to Independence Avenue, where they started.

“We’re a large supporter of all community service opportunities in D.C.,” said junior Anthony Heisler, who works in the Office of Community Service.

GW became a promotional partner of the Help the Homeless organization two years ago, making a greater commitment to raising funds by sending more students to volunteer organizing and running the event, organizers said.

The event drew tens of thousands of walkers from around the D.C. area, in addition to GW’s 400, and raised millions of dollars for homeless organizations.

“We just came out to help an organization because it is a good cause,” sophomore Brant Irby said.

Music blared in the background as volunteers cheered on walkers wearing bright yellow T-shirts.

“I am pretty pleased with GW students’ interest,” said Nikki Finch, Office of Community Service assistant program coordinator. “It’s nice to get almost 400 people, which is a pretty significant number for a volunteer event.”

Two years ago, about 300 students participated in the event.

Several GW organizations took part in the walk, including the Phi Sigma Pi fraternity, Jumpstart and the Word Up Bible Study group. Masters in Public Administration students and Masters in Public Health students also joined in the walk to fight homelessness.

Some students said they participated because of their awareness of homelessness in the area and desire to help out those less fortunate than themselves.

“I’ve always been interested in helping programs that help the homeless,” sophomore Gelena Braslavsky said.

Some participants ran the 5K while others walked with small children or in large groups.

Adults donated $25 to walk and those under age 25 contributed $15.

In addition to the walk on the Mall, the Help the Homeless Campaign normally holds four waks in communities outside the city. This year, however, all four were cancelled in reaction to the sniper shootings last month.

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