Newly inaugurated University President Steven Knapp surprised more than 70 students and members of the community on Saturday when he and his family joined in the annual Foggy Bottom Cleanup.
The cleanup was part of the inaugural week’s “day of service,” which included a campus-wide food drive and GW’s participation in the Fannie Mae Foundation’s “Help the Homeless” Walkathon.
University spokesperson Tracy Schario said the cleanup event highlighted Knapp’s outreach to the community and was the right way to end an inaugural week that began with a community breakfast.
“President Knapp has a strong commitment to our neighbors and his participation reinforces that,” she said.
For the cleanup, GW students and local residents collected more than 50 bags of trash, cleared leaves and spread mulch throughout the 26th Street Park and surrounding area.
Alicia Buford, a junior who joined in the cleanup, said she thought events such as this were important because they give students the opportunity to build rapport with local residents.
“A lot of times they feel like we don’t care about them, and it’s good for us to show we care,” Buford said.
She added that Knapp’s participation was “great.”
“It’s nice to meet him and see him outside of the school elements,” Buford said. “For him to throw on some jeans and sneakers and get out there and help, it’s really good.”
Senior Andrew Park said combining the cleanup with the inauguration helped promote the event.
“It helps get the word out, by tying it to everything else,” Park said. “It helps get more people involved.”
Sophomore Dan Curran attended the event last year and said this year’s attendance was much better than in the past. He said that last year fewer than 10 students took part.
“This was a great turnout; it was really impressive,” he said. “It was a better publicized because of the inauguration, so more emphasis was placed on it.”
Students also took part in a walkathon in the morning, which Knapp did not attend. An estimated 50 students gathered at 7:30 a.m. in University Yard to travel down to the National Mall, where they were joined by tens of thousands of others.
Students walked for various charitable organizations, including Charlie’s Place, a local shelter and homeless support center.
Junior Lauren Feig said she took part because it was a good way to help people.
“It’s a great idea for the University to get involved in this,” she said. Feig walked with Alpha Phi Omega, a campus service fraternity that was one of many student organizations that were involved with the event.
Junior Corey Barenbrugge, the Student Association’s vice president for community affairs and the head of the committee for the Day of Service, said the day gave students an opportunity to give back to the community.
“D.C. isn’t just a place where we go to school,” he said. “We want to help the city reach its highest potential, and activities like the day of service give students an excellent opportunity to do so.”
Curran said the day of service marked a great end to a week of celebration and sent the right message about the school’s priorities.
He said, “The parties are over, the panels are over, but before we go back to normal, we get out here and do something for the community.”