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Learning in Action at the University of Virginia

Habitat for Humanity's 2021 Rake-a-Thon Breaks Records

By: 
Max Barte and Cailan Kelly

What is the purpose of the Habitat Rake-a-Thon? How did it begin?

The Habitat for Humanity Club at UVA (HUVA) works with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville (HFHGC) by providing volunteers for build sites and the Restore, supporting the mission of HFHGC through education andA Rake-a-Thon team poses with rakes advocacy, and raising money to fund local Habitat projects.
 
Our eighth annual fundraiser, Rake-a-Thon, returned after a year’s hiatus to bring UVA student organizations and local groups together to rake the yards of our Charlottesville neighbors in exchange for a donation. This fundraiser is held by Habitat for Humanity in various cities across the country, but HFHGC has been particularly successful as it works with HUVA to grow student support and raise awareness of the importance of housing in our community.

How did the event go this year?

This year’s Rake-a-Thon was a huge success, with our largest turnout yet of over 700 volunteers and 73 teams! As in years past, a majority of groups (47) and volunteers (500+) came from UVA. We also raked a record 113 lawns. This success was thanks in large part to our biggest partners, the Muslim Student Association at UVA, Club Swim at UVA, and UVA Athletics, each of which registered over 40 volunteers.Five students pose next to several bags of raked leaves
 
So far, we have raised over $37,000, all of which goes directly toward building future Habitat homes in the Southwood community redevelopment. The Southwood Mobile Home Park is a community of 1,500 neighbors located just four miles from UVA. In 2007, Habitat purchased the community and dedicated itself to providing sustainable, permanent housing to residents without displacing or raising housing costs for a single family. You can read more about Southwood and Habitat’s work on the HFHGC website and the Southwood FAQ page.

How did you get involved? What is your favorite aspect of the Rake-a-Thon?

The HUVA Rake-a-Thon team grew threefold to 18 volunteers since last year’s event! Though our team was only assigned two lawns in the same neighborhood, we finished early and joined Club Swim to rake one last lawn. Our favorite part is always meeting the homeowners. At our first lawn of the morning, the kind homeowners offered us cookies and took a group photo with the team and our enormous pile of leaves.

What was Several students pose with their leaf pilesdifferent about the Rake-a-Thon this year?

For this year’s Rake-a-Thon, we opted not to hold the traditional kick-off event to start the morning. We also shortened the event, ending at 1 p.m. instead of 3 p.m., which kept energy levels high and allowed hungry rakers to dine with our restaurant partners, including J-Bird Coffee, Roots, Brazos Tacos, and Juice Laundry. Other than a few minor changes, the core of the event was the same; volunteers enjoyed the sunny weather by raking as many leaves as they could!

How can interested students get involved with Habitat for Humanity?

We welcome new members and invite those interested to fill out this form so that they may be added to our email listserv and GroupMe to hear about the variety of opportunities to get involved and support HFHGC!

Max and Cailan
About the Author: 

Max Barte (he/him) is the president of HUVA. He enjoys volunteering on the build site and the Habitat Re-Store, and advocating for local affordable housing. Max is a fourth-year student double-majoring in Political & Social Thought and Economics.

Cailan Kelly is the vice president of HUVA. She loves working to promote affordable housing and helping to teach others about the power of the community engagement design methods of the Southwood redevelopment project. Cailan is a third-year student double majoring in Urban Planning and Global Studies.