Siegfried’s Day of Man promotes community awareness
Did you see a young man clad in a teal t-shirt, pair of shorts, and sandals on February 6, a crisp 35-degree day? If you were on campus last Wednesday, chances are you witnessed one of these gentlemen from Siegfried Hall sporting their summer attire in support of local people experiencing homelessness in South Bend.
This annual tradition, coined Day of Man, “began on a cold day 13 years ago when a Siegfried resident, in a rush to get to class, forgot to grab a coat.” According to the Day’s Facebook page, “On his way to class, he thought of the many homeless people in South Bend and elsewhere who have to deal with these conditions on a daily basis. He and a few friends took up a collection later that day, and Day of Man was born.”
Andrew Lege, a first year student who lives in Siegfried Hall, said, “Being from Louisiana, 35 degrees isn’t something that I get to encounter often. Walking to class in a t-shirt and shorts was definitely a fun and difficult experience.”
Senior Rambler Matt Mottern commented on braving the cold without the proper attire: “It’s almost refreshing at first, but once the cold gets to your fingers and toes, that’s when the pain starts to set in. I’ve never been more aware of the cold!”
The yearly event is organized by the Ramblers of Siegfried Hall, with the help of a commissioner who plans the event and manages the money collection. Each resident of Siegfried is encouraged to participate, but most Siegfried residents do not need much persuading to be a part of this popular tradition at Notre Dame. Siegfried resident Charles Naudet told the Rover, “A majority of the residents do participate! Even many of the former residents who have moved off campus will buy a shirt (with a donation) and participate as well.”
Day of Man is a widely-known event, not just on campus, but also in the larger South Bend community. This year, a few residents were featured on the local WNDU morning news sporting their t-shirts and shorts to raise awareness for the event. Even in the freezing rain at 6 am, the young men could not contain their joy while sharing their support for the South Bend Center for the Homeless.
Each residence hall at Notre Dame puts on an annual event in support of a local charity. South Bend Center for the Homeless, Siegfried Hall’s charity of choice, is celebrating its 30th anniversary and works to “break the cycle of homelessness.” Day of Man is a huge contributor to its efforts, raising over $100,000 in the last 13 years.
This day is only made successful with the thousands of donors that Siegfried residents recruit. The Ramblers carried around plastic cups for cash donations and gave out the Day of Man Venmo account to students and faculty who were not carrying cash. Whether they were in Spanish class, South Dining Hall, or Hesburgh Library, Siegfried residents proudly spread the word about their feature event and were able to draw in many donations. With the message that “any amount can make a difference,” students donated anywhere from $1 to $50.
Mottern said, “People love to say how we live in a bubble on ND’s campus, because it’s true. However, we can’t forget that we’re part of a broader community of South Bend/St. Joseph’s county and that they face many issues that we don’t often think about.” His favorite part about the Day of Man event is getting to “escape the bubble” and being able to recognize those in the greater community who need our support.
Lege and Mottern both shared how grateful they were for the opportunity to participate in such an event. Lege said, “It did not take long to walk outside and be reminded of the lack of warmth our outfits provided. This tradition truly shows how Notre Dame students want to give back to the community around them. For everyone in Siegfried who does service at the Center for the Homeless, this experience was special.”
Mottern said, “I was constantly reminded of how privileged I am to not have to worry about the cold as much as the homeless do. They were on my mind from the moment I stepped outside. I almost felt guilty in a way, and I hope that moving forward I can think more about the homeless and their struggles and help in some way outside of Day of Man.”
Not only did those who participated in Day of Man say they were reminded of the homeless on February 6, but other Notre Dame students also recognized the importance of supporting those who are less fortunate in our community. Freshman Mary Mueller said, “It was inspiring to see so many men come out for a great cause. It reminded me about all of those who are homeless and without coats during this cold season.”
Lege reflected, “This day certainly brought out the best of the Notre Dame community, and really highlighted our connection to the Center for the Homeless in South Bend. It allowed us to be truly grateful for our gifts and to help out others who don’t share these same privileges.”
Sydney is a freshman in the Holy Cross College-Notre Dame Gateway Program and is hoping to double major in Economics and Spanish. Native to the warm climate of Arizona, Sydney does not approve of the frigid, South Bend winter, but is looking forward to the occasional snowball fight. You can contact her at email@example.com.