By Stephanie Burton
A mile of masking tape lined the center of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill campus recently as Jewish students collected money to help the victims of violence in the Darfur region of Sudan. The "Dimes Mile" was part of North Carolina Hillel's yearlong Dimes for Darfur campaign, a nationwide effort to collect 150,000 dimes -- representing the 150,000 children who perished during the Holocaust -- and help those suffering from a modern-day genocide.
Originally the idea of North Carolina Hillel Tzedek Chair Lisa Estrin, two Dimes Miles have been held on campus during the last month. Organizers placed a mile of tape—sticky side up—in the central campus pit so students walking by could empty their pockets of coins and bills and stick them on the tape. The scene created a powerful visual representation of the Holocaust's toll on humanity.
"Passers-by were able to really connect with and feel a part of the project because they were able to physically see the amount of money they were raising by working together," said Elizabeth Bernold, the project's co-chair.
During the first "Dimes Mile," students raised $450, and this month's event brought in another $300. The students hope to raise the total of $15,000 by North Carolina Hillel's Holocaust Remembrance Week in April.
Dimes for Darfur also sponsored a special Shabbat dinner at North Carolina Hillel after the Dimes Mile where students could learn more about the situation in Darfur and other recent cases of genocide. One student gave a d'var Torah (lesson on the week's Torah portion) on the promise of "never again" and spoke about her trip to Rwanda. The group also raised additional funds during the dinner.
"At each dinner table we placed a clear vase that we filled with some of the coins raised. We put a label on the vases that read: 'This money was raised today at the Dimes Mile. The amount of $xxx represents xxx children whose lives were lost during the Holocaust,'" Bernold said.
Estrin and Bernold are planning more events throughout the semester to "raise awareness, raise money and inspire" action among the students at UNC-Chapel Hill, according to Estrin.
Stephanie Burton is a senior at The George Washington University and an intern in Hillel's communications department.