Fast-a-Thon Raises Over $14,000 for Amazing Grace Food Pantry
Wesleyan’s fifth annual Fast-a-Thon Banquet took place in Beckham Hall and the Daniel Family Commons on Tuesday, Nov. 15, with students raising $14,000 for the Amazing Grace Soup Kitchen as of Thursday. Participating students donated points, cash, or checks to the Soup Kitchen in Middletown, and attended the Haveli-catered banquet to commemorate the event.
The event was sponsored by the Interfaith Justice League, the Muslim Student Association, Haveli India restaurant, Bon Appétit, the Office of Residential Life, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, the Office of Community Service (OCS), the Student Budget Committee, and Student Activities and Leadership Development.
Hira Jafri ’13 has worked on marketing the Fast-a-Thon since she came to the University. In the past, the event was always planned to coincide with the month of Ramadan. However, because the Islamic calendar is lunar, Ramadan took place over the summer this year. The committee instead decided to have the banquet at a different time.
“This year, we decided to line it up with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, and try to use it as a kick-off event to the rest of the amazing events we had planned for the week,” Jafri said.
Ali Chaudhry ’12 has been involved with organizing the Fast-a-Thon since his freshman year, and was one of a variety of speakers at the banquet. He highlighted the challenges associated with planning the event later in the year than usual.
“It’s a little later in the semester, so people don’t have enough [meal] points,” he said. “The fact that people still donated so many points was really nice. I thought that it was very successful given all the circumstances.”
Planning for the event began in the late spring of last year and continued into September and October. According to student organizers, the administration was immediately on board, and the OCS and Bon Appétit were prominent supporters of the event. Chaudhry emphasized three main goals the committee had in mind while organizing the Fast-a-Thon.
“The first was obviously to raise money for the Amazing Grace [Soup Kitchen]—that’s something we do every year,” she said. “Secondly, to raise awareness about the concept of fasting, because often people don’t know much about the importance of it in different religions and even in a non-religious sense. And thirdly, it was something to bring the campus together.”
Gabriel Frankel ’15 was one of the students who attended the banquet. For him, the speakers expressed a facet of religious life with which he had no former experience. Frankel especially appreciated the special chant delivered before the meal.
“It was really cool. It was something I’d never been exposed to, and it was great,” Frankel said.
The Fast-a-Thon engages half of the student body, and is the largest student-run event on campus. With around 1,200 students involved in donating, according to Jafri, it unites the campus around a common cause.
“I love how Fast-a-Thon is able to bring people from all walks of life, without even having any connection to fasting or to the Middletown community, and bring them together through this one event,” Jafri said.
As of Thursday, the event had raised over $14,000, the same amount they raised last year, though the organizers had not finished tallying donations.
“Our donations pretty much lead Amazing Grace throughout the year,” Jafri said. “I think our donation is one of the biggest they get throughout the year, which can carry them through for an extended period of time.”
Reflecting on the event, Chaudhry once again focused on the way the Fast-a-Thon brought people together through philanthropy and through the dinner.
“People weren’t just donating on the spot, people were donating [online], so the donations were out of real good will—they weren’t just to show people that they were making donations,” Chaudhry said. “Seeing all those people there, it wasn’t just about donating, it was about being there in solidarity.”
Chaudhry emphasized that the Fast-a-Thon was for people from all different backgrounds who had a desire to become involved for a common cause.
“This is one thing on which we can all unite,” she said.