Thursday, April 10th was the second annual national interfaith tolerance day, known as Better Together Day. The Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago founded this day of service among colleges as a way to show that students, faculty, and staff of different religious and philosophical backgrounds can work together around a common theme such as service.
This year, Roanoke College’s interfaith service activity was “Micah’s Backpack.” On Wednesday, April 9th and Thursday, April 10th, students gathered change and packed lunches outside of Commons to raise money to provide food for local elementary school students. The purpose of “Micah’s Backpack” was to raise awareness of the needs of local elementary school students faced with hunger. Many of their parents do not have enough income to provide food for them on the weekends, so their only stable source of food is from what is offered to them at their schools during the week. Roanoke College’s Interfaith Council raised $114 over these two days and packed almost 100 meals. On the morning of Thursday, April 17th all of the proceeds were distributed to 20 students from G.W. Carver Elementary and 20 students from East Salem Elementary.
In addition to acting together for the common good, the Better Together mission also strives for religious pluralism â€“ or, respect for all religious and non-religious individuals. On April 10th, students were asked to wear blue and to sign the Better Together Day Pledge to show their support for this movement and interfaith cooperation. Members of Roanoke College’s Interfaith Council collected 192 signatures throughout the day from students, faculty, and staff from all religious and philosophical backgrounds. This was the most signatures collected out of all the schools that participated in the Better Together program across the country!
Senior Byron Tyler Coles stated, “I started interfaith work as a way to better serve my community â€“ the Pagan community â€“ to show that we’re not scary monsters who worship Satanâ€¦and that we’re not interested in destroying other religious communitiesâ€¦to tackle the stereotypes prescribed to other people.”
Anyone can sign the pledge to reach out and stand against religious intolerance and religious extremism. For more information about the Interfaith Youth Core, or to take the pledge yourself, visit: http://www.ifyc.org/beblue.