Team From Baker House Walked For Hunger, Raised $5K For Project Bread

Would you walk 500 miles to fight hunger? How about 20 miles?

Baker House did just that on May 6. Assembling a team of 22 — including freshmen through seniors, alumni, graduate resident tutors, and a Harvard student — the Baker House team walked 20 miles from Baker to Baker, by way of Boston, Brookline, Newton, and Cambridge in the Walk for Hunger. The official route started and ended at Boston Common.

The Baker House team blew their goal of $3,500 out of the water, raising over $5,200. Proceeds from the Walk for Hunger go toward Project Bread, an organization founded to fight hunger caused by the high cost of living and heating bills in Massachusetts. Project Bread supports Massachusetts food pantries, soup kitchens, food banks, and food salvage programs. In total, this year’s Walk for Hunger raised $3.3 million through the efforts of corporations and 43,000 walkers.

GRT Christopher A. Cassa G brought in the most money single-handedly for the Baker team, with $1,023.21. “It was really inspiring how generously the donations poured in from MIT students, alumni, and faculty for this worthwhile cause,” Cassa said.

While the individual walkers raised money, the whole of Baker House did its share as well. Baker House held a Battle of the Floors Penny Contest to support the team, run by Nathalie M. Pinkerton ’08.

Running from April 25 to May 4, the goal of the Penny Contest was to earn the most points and win a floor study break. Each floor had a coin collection bottle, with pennies (worth +5), nickels (-5), dimes (-15), and quarters (-20), according to advertising for the contest. Effectively, it was a game of strategy and loose change.

Rumors floated around Baker House that someone had changed $100 into pennies at the Student Center’s Bank of America. People on certain floors hoarded copper and silver in their own bottles, waiting for last-minute, 11:59:59 p.m. sabotage on Friday, May 4.

In total, the Penny Contest raised $618.31, with the fifth floor leading in points with 106,650 points and raising $240.60. The fourth floor, however, raised the most money, at $281.89, but their 73,400 points paled in comparison. They clearly had the most silver and were sabotaged the most.

Jeannette L.A. Fiala G, a GRT for Baker’s fifth floor, founded the Baker House Walk for Hunger team. “Project Bread is an organization that we choose to support because of what it stands for,” Jeannette Fiala said. “It’s not just giving away food, it’s advocating change in the community. [Fellow GRT Joshua C. Fiala and I] did our first walk four years ago; then we decided we could do much better with a whole team of people.”

To assemble the team, Josh Fiala said, “We recruited walkers through repeat contact, and they joined by good will. We postered the dorm, e-mailed out, added a dinner incentive, and the coin drive helped as well.”

Jaime C. Kentosh ’07 donned her walking shoes for the third time because “it’s for a good cause and it’s a lot of fun.”

Musical entertainment, supporters and snacks rallied the walkers on. “The first part of the route was Back Bay and the city, then we went out to Newton along main streets,” said Nina L. DeBenedictis ’06. “As we got further out, it became scenic and we walked along a lake and ran up a hill together. The second half was more suburban, and we came back along the Charles River past Harvard. We were really tired when we got back to Baker, but it was fun and well worth it.”

The Baker House team hopes to set the fundraising goal even higher next year. Here’s hoping for clear weather.