Student-raised fund breaks record to serve orphans
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 01:03
Breakaway’s 7th annual Shalom Project sought to inspire students to make a difference in the lives of disabled orphans while asking students to meet a goal of more than $100,000 — which, on Wednesday, was met and surpassed.
This year’s Shalom project — which was launched Feb. 12— partnered with SHOW HOPE, an organization dedicated to providing care and adoption aid for orphans.
The project met its minimum goals of $70,000 for orphan care ¬— which will provide a year of care in a SHOW HOPE clinic for 20 special needs children — and $31,500 for adoption aid — which will provide seven families with a grant to help with adoption costs.
For Breakaway Director Ben Stuart, the March 1 birth of his daughter has given him a different perspective on the project.
“Sitting in the hospital, repeatedly they bring our little girl to us for us to hold her,” Stuart said. “This helps to consolidate the realization that there are millions of kids around the world that have no one for the nurses to take them to, whose mom and dad are gone. We can do something about that.”
Stuart said his family only heightens his sense of the need for action.
“For me, the intensity goes up — the tragedy of fatherlessness, I feel it deeper, and the conviction to make a difference for children — I feel it stronger,” Stuart said.
Stuart said he was nervous to present such a large goal — the largest in the seven-year history of the Shalom project — to less-than-wealthy college kids, but said he did so after careful consideration.
“When setting the goal we ask ourselves, ‘What do we think is within the capacity of students to reach and yet will require them to sacrifice?’ That’s what we were trying to find,” Stuart said.
Not only was the higher goal unique to this year’s project, more opportunities for donations were made available for students.
Lydia Irion, Breakaway staff member and Class of 2010, said donation efforts were expanded this year to include an on-campus table to accept donations and t-shirt sales at the MSC.
According to Stuart, the goal and fundraising methods weren’t the only things that changed about Shalom this year. Past projects have delved into the fight against human trafficking in some way. Stuart said SHOW HOPE works against human slavery in a different way: prevention.
“There are millions of orphans in the world,” Stuart said. “The majority age out of the system in their countries, and the mass majority that age out end up in crime or prostitution — they end up as slaves. Orphans are a major pipeline into all manners of slavery.”
Logan Knowles, senior bioenvironmental science major, expressed his view on the topic of past Shalom projects in a similar way.
“The past couple years, we’ve done human trafficking and it’s still a huge problem and an issue that needs to be addressed, but if we can give those orphans a loving home, then we can help end the supply,” Knowles said.
According to Brent Monogue, Class of 2010, Breakaway can choose where they want to direct the funds raised. The money can be allocated to adoptions that are happening in a certain part of the world, including ones locally, but they have not yet decided.
“As far as the 20 children, one of the crazy things is we may never see their faces or know their stories this side of eternity, but I’m confident when we see our King in glory, that we will know their stories and see these children,” Monogue said.
Stuart referenced a specific Bible verse as a motivation for the partnership with SHOW HOPE.
“And really, for me, connecting it with James 1:27 — true religion is to visit the orphan and the widow in their distress," he said. "And I’m like, if true religion is visiting the orphan when they’re distressed, this is as true as it gets.”
Some students said they had taken encouragement from Shalom’s efforts, while others said Shalom only served to intensify their preexisting aspirations.
“I’m actually going back to India this summer and I’m living in an orphanage for two weeks,” said Megan Mazerolle, sophomore communication major and Breakaway volunteer. “This project has done nothing but encourage that passion that I have for orphans, so it’s been awesome.”
Audrey Ryon, junior English major, said she used her job as a photographer to serve others.
“One of the families that I just recently took pictures of has two adoptive children from China with disabilities,” Ryon said. “So kind of as my gift to SHOW HOPE I did it for free, so it’s been cool to give back in that way.”
Monogue said some students raised around $500 with a garage sale and others were able to get the community involved as well.
“We’ve had a couple of our team leaders go and invite churches to join in prayer with us, and their response is to give,” Monogue said. “The community is coming around this as well, it’s not just students and I love that.”
Stuart explained said, in the end, Shalom is meant to be more than just a fundraiser.
“I wanted to give [students and donors] a vision of doing more with their life,” Stuart said. “Maybe it’ll happen through adoption, maybe it’ll happen through SHOW HOPE, maybe it will happen a million other ways; but if they can leave here inspired to do more than just get a job or watch TV, then I feel like we’ve succeeded.”
Though the project’s goal of $100,000 has been reached, donations will continue to be accepted through Friday.