Burdened by AIDS, Students Raise $39,000

by Public Relations Office—Cedarville, Ohio

Cedarville, Ohio—Coming off the heels of the 2006 fundraising campaign that raised $100,000 for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, Cedarville students are again giving of their time and resources. This time, their efforts were focused internationally.

    In fall 2007, a group of Cedarville students felt burdened by the AIDS epidemic ravishing African countries and wanted to tangibly help the communities suffering from the crisis. Their ambition grew from a personal desire to the campus-wide Home of Hope project. Partnering with World Help and sponsored by the Student Government Association, Home of Hope sought to raise $25,000 to build a home in Zambia, Africa, where 12 orphans affected by the AIDS crisis could live in a stable home environment.

    To meet the goal, students organized a variety of events that not only raised funds but also rallied the entire campus. SGA sponsored several activities such as a movie night, educational films, an AIDS forum and a chapel offering. Students also partnered with Wittenberg University students to hold a 5K fundraising race. Several campus organizations held fundraisers, with Tau Delta Kappa bringing in a whopping $10,000. Local restaurants and coffee houses also volunteered to donate a portion of their sales from Cedarville students. As of the end of the 07/08 academic year, students had responded with great fervor and initiative to raise $39,000, going over-and-above the original goal in an unprecedented amount of time.

    With the increased funds, students now plan to build two homes. Run by Christian widows and young couples, the three-bedroom 900-square foot homes will each care for 12 orphans. The children will gain better access to educational and medical resources and have the opportunity to hear the Gospel.

    According to Brittany Donald, SGA officer and project leader, meeting the financial goal was secondary to evoking long-term change in students. “We wanted students to engage the crisis that AIDS has caused in Africa,” she says. “We wanted them to look at the problem and make a choice to either remain silent or take action.”

    Looking back on the project, Donald comments, “Change is truly happening on our campus, and it has been amazing to watch students embrace this project!” Baxter Stapleton, also a project leader, agreed with her. “Never have I seen students so excited and ignited to take action, raise awareness and donate money to help their brothers and sisters in Christ who live halfway around the world.”

    “This type of project demonstrates what is at the heart of the Cedarville University student body: a love for people,” says campus pastor Bob Rohm. “Our students are generous and caring.”

    The Homes of Hope will soon be under construction, and Cedarville plans to send students to Zambia each year to visit the homes and serve the village. The project also has potential to extend beyond the campus to the entire Cedarville family, as several alumni have already participated financially. Donald and Stapleton hope that future students will capture the vision by continuing to pray and raise money.

    “The purpose of this project was not just to raise money,” Donald says. “The long-term purpose was to both change the lives of orphans in Zambia and evoke permanent change in students. Who knows how these changed lives will impact the community, the country and even the world?”