Willimantic, CT — Eastern Connecticut State University held its eighth annual Poverty Awareness Marathon on Sept. 23. More than 400 food items were donated to the Covenant Soup Kitchen and Windham Area Interfaith Ministry as more than 350 members of the Eastern community ran, walked or pledged to alleviate poverty.
The awareness-raising event is inspired by the sustained efforts of Charlie Chatterton, professor of kinesiology and physical education, who has completed 63 poverty-related marathons. The 26-mile run took about five-and-a-half hours and 22 laps around campus for Chatterton to complete. Throughout the day, runners and walkers dropped in as their schedules permitted, some for a lap or two, others for a half-marathon.
“It’s not about finishing,” said Chatterton, “It’s about challenging students to make a positive difference in any way they can.”
This year the marathon was organized by the Low Rise Apartments, a residence hall that used the marathon as its “Day of Service,” a new initiative of the Office of Housing and Residential Life that challenges residence halls to spearhead a community service event of their choice.
“The marathon’s been going on for years, but we tried to make it our own,” said economics student Gina Denicolo ’17, a resident assistant in Low Rise. New this year, marathon participants used wipe boards to write how they’d alleviate poverty, and then shared their photo and pledge on social media.
Some students pledged to volunteer, others to talk about issues of poverty with their family and friends. “Sharing it on social media is meant to encourage students to follow through with their pledge,” said Denicolo, “and to give them a memory to look back on.”