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RUPA holds 13th annual homecoming bed races to donate masks for local school

In this year's homecoming bed races, teams of four members from various campus organizations raced each other down Sicard Street in support of children from Roosevelt Elementary School in New Brunswick. – Photo by Samantha Cheng

The Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA) held its 13th annual homecoming bed races event yesterday, with 36 teams participating to collect and donate masks for Roosevelt Elementary School in New Brunswick.

In the event, teams of four members competed in race competitions while riding on beds constructed with wheels. These teams were comprised of members from campus organizations, including greek life and other student clubs.

In order to participate in this year’s bed races, each team was required to donate a minimum of 40 brand new child-sized cloth, washable masks to the school for students to use. Each year, Rutgers’ annual bed races event takes place to raise donations for a different cause.

Carlos Ortiz, a School Arts and Sciences senior and director of conditions and community at RUPA, discussed the reasoning behind the cause of raising masks for the school.

He explained that RUPA had been in touch with Roosevelt Elementary School to figure out what the most beneficial donation would be for the New Brunswick community. Together, they came to the conclusion that a donation of masks for the students would help the community the most.

The continuous goal of the bed races is to collect as large of a donation as possible to send over to the school, so every participating team is encouraged with prizes and rewards to keep working to build up the donation, Ortiz said.

“We also have trophies and stuff for organizations that donate the most, so there are little prizes along the way,” he said. “Ideally, we want organizations to really bunker down and get as many masks donated as they can.”

Ortiz said the main significance of the bed races is that the event bridges the gap between the Rutgers community and the community of families that live in New Brunswick. 

“As a Rutgers student, it can often be really easy to forget that you are not just living at Rutgers, you are living in New Brunswick,” he said. “So one of the ways we try to bridge this gap between students and the greater New Brunswick area is pretty much the bed races. It’s a giant community-building event.”

Members from various fraternities and sororities, Rutgers Dance Marathon, ROTC and other campus organizations participated in the event. Kayla Sleeper, a School of Engineering senior and a member of Rutgers’ chapter of the national service sorority Omega Phi Alpha, discussed her experiences as part of her sorority’s bed racing team.

Sleeper expressed her enthusiasm for participating in this year’s event as a senior since it was her first time. She said she has wanted to participate since she was a sophomore but was not been able to fit it into her schedule before the pandemic.

She also discussed how the concept of the bed races aligns with the goals of her sorority being centered around service.

“It’s really cool to do something that’s fun, but then know that there’s a purpose and a reason behind it and know what you’re doing can help other people,” Sleeper said. “That’s why I love (Omega Phi Alpha) and the sorority, we all just love doing things to help other people.”

Ellie Rosenberg, a School of Nursing junior and vice president of campus relations for the Rutgers chapter of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, discussed participating with her sorority in this year’s bed racing event for the first time.

Rosenberg said that she remembered seeing the bed races take place during her first year at Rutgers and thought it looked like a fun event. She said she was very excited when she received good engagement back from her sorority when suggesting that they partake in the bed races.

“I was very happy, and I have some people on the decorating committee now. It sounded like a lot of fun because I personally went to them (my first year),” Rosenberg said. “So I wanted to now be a part of that fun now that I’m in an organization on campus.”

Ortiz said one of the main goals for his team this year is to create a sense of normalcy for the event that existed prior to the pandemic and to continue building upon the Rutgers and New Brunswick tradition of the bed races.

“(We want to) make sure that students have a really fun and meaningful experience at our events,” he said. “And that the groups that decide to participate in any of our events, especially the bed races, take something away, more than just the trophies.”

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