One student pooled his $2 with a friend to buy a jar of generic peanut butter. Another planned to buy rice and beans. Associate Professor of Economics Shawn Humphrey used his $10 for the week up-front to buy basic groceries to last him until Friday.
Humphrey and 35 UMW students are participating in the annual $2 a Day Challenge, an experiential learning exercise aimed at raising awareness and funds for poverty-related causes.
For the week, they will live in a self-made structure on Ball Circle and spend only $2 each day on food and other expenses. In the process, they hope to raise more than $2,000 for La Ceiba, a microfinance institution, while shedding light on poverty issues.
“The $2 a Day Challenge was born out of the classroom,” Humphrey said. “Education is the primary focus.”
The $2 a Day Challenge, founded by Humphrey, is in its sixth year at UMW. The program is part of the larger TDC organization, which also includes the Month of Microfinance movement and the Poverty Action Conference. This year, several other universities, including Wake Forest and Elon, are holding $2 a Day Challenges.
For senior Brian Downing, the $2 a Day Challenge is “an exercise in scaling back.”
“It’s about refocusing on the real essentials,” he said. “You remember that it is the human connections that matter.”
It’s the fourth $2 a Day Challenge for Downing, who said the sense of community helps keep students motivated throughout the week.
Freshman James Hutcheson talked to friends who had participated in previous years and decided he wanted to experience it for himself.
“It was one of the main reasons I came to UMW,” he said.
The $2 a Day Challenge will continue through Friday, April 6. For more information, visit http://twodollarchallenge.org/challenge-week/.