DECA students raise money for young Iraqi victims of war
By Amanda Betzold
The marketing students involved in DECA are undertaking a new challenge. The mission is to reach out beyond the community and connect to people worldwide. In order to accomplish this ambition, DECA has established a strong relationship with the Global Medical Relief Fund (GMRF). Together, DECA and GMRF created a fundraising event called Raising Smiles, aimed at raising $10,000 to sponsor three injured children from Iraq. With the help of the campaign, the children will be able to travel to the United States for medical treatment.
Raising Smiles is a community service and public relations project that has been organized completely by students who are a part of the DECA program. The two students in charge of the project this year are seniors Zeina Al-Khalaf and Joe Cooter. Al-Khalaf was inspired to organize the Raising Smiles campaign last year. Cooter was also introduced to the campaign last year. The faculty advisor is marketing teacher Casey Hepner.
Al-Khalaf's father is Iraqi, and her mother is Egyptian, so she feels a special sympathy for the children in Iraq. "I started Raising Smiles last year when I met two wounded Iraqi children at a fundraiser for my dad's organization, the Iraqi American Alliance, hosted with the Global Medical Relief Fund. Ever since I met the two kids, Ahmed and Rossol, I couldn't get their situations out of my mind," said Al-Khalaf.
The students involved in Raising Smiles are setting out to accomplish several things."The goals of Raising Smiles are to raise awareness about the victimized children of war, and to raise money for the flying and housing costs for the children to be able to come here and receive free prosthetics," explained Al-Khalaf.
The project this year is based on last year's success."Raising Smiles was very successful last year. We raised about $5,000 and brought two wounded Iraqi children here and had two events," said Al-Khalaf. The campaign attracted media attention from local news programs and the Associated Press. This year, they hope to attract national media, such as Democracy Now, CNN, and Fox News.
A project of this size requires a large quantity of support from different groups. Al-Khalaf said about 400 DECA members are involved in the campaign.
"For support, we rely heavily on the Global Medical Relief Fund, a non-profit organization based out of New York with the mission to help all child victims of war. All of our funds raised last year went to them directly to help the children in Iraq, and all of our funds raised this year will go to the same goal," said Cooter.
The first fundraiser will be an art auction on Wed., Dec. 20, and all the art being sold will go toward our fundraising goal. The art is being created exclusively by the Robinson Art Department, and we hope to attract a large number of students and parents from the Robinson community," said Cooter.
Other fundraising event plans could be in the making, such as a joint banquet with students at nearby George Mason University to raise more money for the project. Students and faculty can donate directly to the fundraiser as well.
The DECA students, led by Al-Khalaf and Cooter, are striving to make a difference not only in our community, but in our world. Their efforts could end up changing the lives of three Iraqi children forever.
By Stephanie Axelrod |
December 19, 2006; 8:40 AM ET
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