Lug-A-Jug event is more than a normal 6K

lug a jug

United Solar Initiative volunteers promote Lug-a-Jug on the Quad Wednesday afternoon.

When the United Solar Initiative brainstormed ideas to fundraise for their nonprofit solar energy organization, they quickly had a unique idea for a 6K.

The Lug-A-Jug 6K has participants create teams to carry an empty five-gallon jug for three kilometers, and a full five-gallon jug back three kilometers. This simulates the walk many people in developing countries take every day to access water.

United Solar Initiative wants people to understand the gravity of water poverty through this event.  

"Clean water is not universal. There are still close to 700 million people that don’t have clean water," said Steven Thomsen, co-founder of USI. "It’s important that that reality becomes more tangible to people, and we want to help that happen by having people carry 40 pounds of water.” 

This year Lug-a-Jug will be held on Sept. 30 at Southern Community Park in Chapel Hill and will feature raffle prizes, yard games and food from local businesses. 

Senior Lydia Odom, who volunteered and participated in Lug-a-Jug last year, said the event had an impact on her. 

“It was cool because the people who did participate seemed very excited and thought it gave them a good picture of what walking to get your water every day would look like," Odom said.

Last year, Lug-A-Jug raised thousands of dollars, Thomsen said.

USI hopes to gain more student attendance this year by lowering the price to participate and by publicizing the event on campus. They would like to raise $10,000 to support their current partnership with World Vision, the largest nongovernmental provider of clean water in developing countries.

“Essentially (World Vision) said, 'We want you to put solar panels on water pumps.' The original offer was 100 water pumps in 10 different African countries," said senior Meredith Ratledge, co-president of USI.

Ratledge said the Lug-A-Jug event was USI's idea for raising funds for the pumps. Additional funds raised go toward helping educate community leaders on solar energy solutions.

"It’s also more than just fundraising because it’s important to us to create an awareness of the larger issue of water poverty,” Ratledge said.

USI also partners with solar industry leaders in the Research Triangle, such as Strata Solar and Southern Energy Management. 

“All the big solar companies in the area are participating this year. They’re donating, but also trying to get teams together," Thomsen said. "We’re really excited about that because part of our mission, as our name would suggest, is to unite the solar industry to get everyone together."

Many companies are moving toward renewable energy and through the United Solar Initiative, developing countries have access to clean water and electricity that they may not have had otherwise. 

“Renewable energy as a whole is going to be the way of the future and we have a way to provide people with access to things they might not have otherwise,” Ratledge said.


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