The Concordia Student Union has begun a big fundraising campaign for tsunami relief, in partnership with several student groups. Lauren Teblum, the CSU’s VP Finance, has been at the center of the Union’s efforts, which began soon after the end of the holidays.
“We started the first day we got back to school because we’re the voice for 26,000 undergraduate students, and this is something that most students really care about,” said Teblum. “But as individuals it’s very hard to get involved and to know how to help, so we thought if we started a campaign it would be a vehicle to help students get involved.”
The campaign is working, and the response from students has been strong. “We’ve had tons of students come up to us asking to participate and to help out,” said Teblum. “Today we had the Model United Nations at the fundraising tables-they filled up all the tables volunteering,” said Teblum. “Tomorrow we have the Concordia Computer Science Society volunteering.”
The tables have been raising money for the Tsunami Relief fund, but the CSU decided to go further than just soliciting donations from the student body. “We also decided to donate the funds from our Winter Carnival events,” said Teblum. “We had a Cabane a Sucre on the mezzanine last Tuesday, and a donation box to raise money on the Wednesday. We also had hot chocolate and tea in the lobby, with all the donations going to [the relief fund],” said Teblum. “All the proceeds from the skiing are going to [the fund] as well, but not from the tubing. We also had a welcome back party at Reggie’s, and the bar donated all the proceeds from the day. ”
The events to date have been very successful, with lots of money raised thus far. “We’ve already raised $20,000 and the University agreed to match us up to $20,000. We’re giving it today so the Canadian Government can match it, then we’ll be continuing our fundraising efforts,” said Teblum. “It’s something that every student would care about and want to get involved in. We felt it was our job to help them raise the money.”
“We didn’t want it to be a CSU campaign,” said Teblum. “We wanted it to be a Concordia University student campaign. And we’re not done, we have our biggest events coming in the next two weeks. The total amount raised so far [by all student groups combined] is almost $150,000, which is more than the Quebec government gave. We hope to get up to $200,000, which would be double what the Quebec government gave.”
The money raised will go to organizations that are helping the people of the region cope with the devastation and rebuild their communities. The CSU has chosen to donate their funds to OXFAM, while the Muslim Students Association’s funds will be given to Human Concern International, “Everybody gets to pick their own charity, as long as it is government recognized so that the Canadian Government would match it,” Teblum said. “We chose OXFAM because they only give 5% to administrative work, whereas Red Cross and UNICEF take 40%.”
Tal Elharrar, Project Coordinator for Hillel Concordia, has been helping to organize Thursday’s Tsunami Relief Day together with the CSU and the Concordian Canadian Asian Society. Hillel has also been organizing their own events. “Tonight we have a concert at Reggie’s, with two bands showing up, maybe three. It’s five dollars at the door, with all proceeds going to tsunami relief,” said Elharrar. “We’ll also be having a Shave to Save as part of Thursday’s events, where a person goes around saying, ‘I’m going to shave my head, how much would you contribute to see me get my head shaved?’ and they raise money from among their friends.”
The MSA has also been very active in raising money for the relief effort. “We organized a fundraising dinner last Saturday with the Indonesian students, which raised $70,000,” said Bilal Hamideh, president of the MSA. “We are also announcing that we are still collecting donations, as we have been for the last two weeks. We are also working with the CSU collecting donations for the tsunami. We are going to be hosting tables to raise funds during the next week. We will have artists at Thursday’s events on the mezzanine to do henna designs and also an expert in calligraphy to write student’s names in Arabic as other means of acquiring donations. Unfortunately today was the deadline for matching donations by the Canadian government, so we sent all the money that we raised over the last two weeks. We have been matched by the Rector [of the university], then that sum was matched by the Government. So for every dollar we raised it was really four dollars.”
The fundraising events will continue throughout the week, with Thursday’s Tsunami Relief Day on the mezzanine being the biggest day for the campaign. For more information or to volunteer, visit the CSU website at www.csu.qc.ca or contact the student groups directly.