GW groups work to combat homelessness with walk on National Mall

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Braving a 7 a.m. Saturday wakeup, hundreds of GW students walked to combat homelessness at the 22nd Annual Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Walkathon held on the National Mall.

Students gathered for a pre-walk breakfast in Kogan Plaza at 7 a.m. and headed to the walk together. Team GW, which carried a buff and blue “GW: We Walk Together” banner, was comprised of a host of student groups and helped raise money for hundreds of different shelters.

Senior Ellie Matthews said her classmates organized a large portion of the GW walkathon team, and that she felt a personal connection to the cause.

“I interned at Community of Hope,” Matthews said. “Recently, their budgets were cut so I’m here walking.”

Alpha Phi Omega, GW’s service fraternity, was also well represented. Senior Lindsay McConnell said APO raised more than $2,000 for Charlie’s Place, which provides breakfast and other services in Northwest D.C.

Sophomore Matt Zemanick, a member of APO, said he walked for N Street Village, the largest women’s shelter in the District.

Greta Murray from the OCS helped to coordinate the event for GW students and said she experiences the “injustices of people in the D.C. area to live in the poverty threshold.”

Murray works for the OCS full-time as the Special Service Events Program Manager. Since the OCS does not have a large budget with which to pay their employees, Murray, an AmeriCorps volunteer, said she gets paid a stipend equal to the poverty threshold – approximately $12,000 per year.

Murray said she was glad to see students working to combat poverty, homelessness and hunger.

“It is important students feel empowered and do on their own,” Murray said.

And despite the early hour support for the cause was felt at the Mall as participants prepared to depart.

“Next to the inauguration, I have never seen so many people at the mall,” McConnell said.

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