What a whirlwind year! I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Champaign-Urbana community for your continued support of interfaith work, and also a very large thank you to the amazing executive board of Interfaith in Action! You guys are the greatest! When we started out this year, we had a whole group of new faces, and I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into. Though we’ve had our share of bumps and panic-filled moments of crazy eyes, I’m really proud of us for sticking it out and bringing the Better Together campaign to a successful end.
In our very first foray into fundraising, we have raised almost $600 dollars for the Eastern Illinois Foodbank – which is a pretty good start! I remember the first day we were selling Krispy Kreme donuts and it was absolutely miserable. Freezing cold with gray clouds looming, it seemed like there was barely anyone out on the Quad. It was hard to muster the enthusiasm at first, but somehow we got a burst of energy and started to yell, “Donuts for a dollar! You know you want one! Support the Eastern Illinois Foodbank!” The second day it got easier – not only because it was sunny, but because we realized that yelling at people is fun. Our Communications Chair, Tiffany, was shouting like it was her job to be our very own interfaith cheerleader; it was awesome! It was also really compelling to tell people about how the foodbank is able to stretch one dollar so that they can buy ten dollars worth of food. It was crazy how fast some of the boxes of donuts went when we told people that by buying a dozen for ten dollars, it’s the equivalent of buying one hundred dollars worth of food.
For our final event of the year, we decided to make our Bash a celebration of the fundraising work we had accomplished, but also the extremely successful religious literacy events we had. Our “speed-faithing” events started out small, sometimes with only executive board members in attendance, but by the end of the semester our attendees were numbering around forty. We had presentations by a number of different student groups about their faith backgrounds, including the Rastafari Movement, Catholicism, Jainism, Islam and Sikhism. We fully intend to continue presentations of this type for next year, and wanted to express our gratitude to those groups who have already participated.
It was so exciting to see so many different faiths represented at our Better Together Bash, playing games while sharing a meal and delicious cupcakes. I think part of the fun was hearing people who recognized each other from different groups and places. “I think you’re in my English class!” “Didn’t we live on the same floor last year?” “I didn’t know that we had so many mutual friends!” It really showed how interfaith is really just a part of our daily lives; it’s happening all the time when we don’t even know it. I really hope it showed everyone who attended that we really are Better Together, and that they’re just as excited as I am to continue working together next year.