OK, so it's not exactly Votes for Women, but it still sounded pretty cool.
On Tuesday, April 21, the Graduate Writers Club, of which I am the advisor, held their Readathon to support First Book.
It was cold. Oh, my, yes, it was cold. And wet. And blustery.
Over the course of twelve hours, 8 am to 8 pm, members of the organization, students from the Arts Village and my classes, colleagues, and interested parties stood out on the steps of the Education Building and read out loud from their favorite works of literature, while monitors encouraged people to donate their spare change.
I was nervous that morning, when I arrived at 7:45 am with my monitor, trying to set things up in the chilly rain. I began to read my favorite childhood book, Emmy Keeps a Promise, while the monitor worked on posters. I thought, is anyone going to give us money? Will there be enough people out here to get us toward our goal? Will people be annoyed? Will my volunteers get pneumonia?
I knew we were going to be all right round about 8:30, when the rain stopped for a time, and the beautiful sun crept over the roof of one of the buildings. A GWC member was reading in one corner, I in another, and things felt really beautiful. As I watched over the rim of my book, I saw people walking by all frowny, and then smiling a little as they saw us and overheard our literature. The first person besides me to give us money dropped a handful of change in our bucket without even hestitating, and I paused long enough to call a thank you after him.
I was out for about two hours in the morning, then over three hours in the evening (during which I read from Gregory Maguire's Mirror, Mirror. All day, volunteers came in and out for their half hour spots, some staying longer, and everyone contributing. I heard tales, when I returned from teaching, of monitors getting scores of people to throw change in the buckets, and spreading flyers around with facts about what we were doing. Also when I returned, one of the monitors successfully got my sheet-poster (made with muslin and duck and electrical tape) to stay up on a column, billowing like a sail so that everyone could read it clearly.
The weather was excruciating (I think we had every kind of rain possible, and we closed the night at no more than 45 degrees!), but somehow the challenge made it all the more endearing. Everyone worked hard to make this work, and since it was my idea and my planning pouring into it, I felt extra warmed by all their efforts. We all believed in what we were doing. Lots of people, despite the cold, stopped to talk to us and say how cool the event was, and asked us if it would be annual.
The proof is in the pile of change I had in the bucket: We raised $169.35. With that, a donation from my Mum, and a portion from the club, I think we'll be able to send $250. How great is that?
I still don't feel quite right--wind burn!--but I'm so proud of the club and of this event.