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Rounding up for HIV/AIDS awareness

By David Han
Published: February 2009

In the last meeting before its first fundraising event, South’s chapter of the Global Citizen Corps gathered, checking to make sure that each member knew his or her role, when it learned that its leader was out sick with a fever.

That, however, was not a problem for its dozen members, for everyone knew the procedure perfectly after the two and a half months of planning.

“Just remember to wear socks and underwear, club member and junior Ellery Berk said, breaking any remaining tension. “Company policy.

A couple of days later on February 7 and continuing all through the week, the club began hosting an HIV/AIDS fundraiser at the Whole Foods in Four Corners, hoping to raise global awareness through education in Third World countries.

The benefit fundraiser asks customers to round up their purchase to the next dollar. The extra money would help pay for charity contributions known as Mercy Kits.

Raising awareness of HIV/AIDS, Mercy Kits fund international radio campaigns and in-class teaching presentations.

The club has currently earned several hundred dollars and hopes to reach a goal of $1000.

Customers, drawn in by the store-donated brownies, support ribbons, and flowers on the club’s booth, listened to club members explain the situation of HIV and AIDS.

Berk believes that education is the best method for finding a solution and preventing the disease.

“It’s been shown that education helps to decrease the spread of AIDS, she said. “Part of what has made AIDS so prevalent has been the stigma and the discrimination against people with AIDS.

Global Citizen Corps leader and junior Molly Weinstein stressed the importance of raising awareness not only in developing countries, but also at Newton South.

“[South] is a very socially aware community, but a lot of the time people don’t actually know the details about the issues and people get excited about doing fundraisers, Weinstein said. “In order to solve anything, it’s important for people to know what the problem is and to know where the efforts are going to.

Customer support was generally positive, though many found the topic of HIV/AIDS disturbing.

“Most of them are fairly supportive, Berk said. “Some customers cringe when they hear AIDS as if they are afraid that we have AIDS or that by donating that they are going to get AIDS somehow. Most of them are fairly supportive.

In organizing the event, Weinstein had called many stores for support, but Whole Foods had been the most cooperative.

“Timing was difficult because we didn’t realize how much of a big deal [the event] was, she said. “We didn’t realize that there is a lot of technical stuff. The cashiers have to enter a code and be trained to handle this. It definitely took more time than we accounted for.

After following through with company regulations, Ava Fantasia, the Marketing Team Leader for the Walnut Street Whole Foods, was glad to support the cause.

“We have a lot of customers that go through our store and they trust that when we are supporting something, that [¦] we knew exactly where the money was going, Fantasia said. “It was important for me to make sure before I let someone come into our store and ask our customers to donate their very hard-earned money, especially in this economy, that we are comfortable with the organization that it is going to.

Cooperation from Whole Foods was crucial to the success of the fundraiser, according to Weinstein.

“We consider ourselves a member of the community, Fantasia said. “One of the most important parts of my job is working with the community and making sure that we are serving them.

South’s chapter of the Global Citizen Corps meets Thursdays during J-Block in room 1308 and hopes to continue planning events like this fundraiser for other issues like world hunger, climate awareness, and education across the globe.

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