Benefitting greatly from good weather and a community full of holiday spirit, Students Empowering the Poor raised $500 at a Thanksgiving festival Saturday, Nov. 21.
The festival at Hurkamp Park helped to raise funds to go to a health center in West Africa.
“This carnival was to bring everyone together in the Thanksgiving spirit to raise money for a good cause,” club member Megan Kent said.
The goal of the group is to raise $75,000 to build a health center in Tonhon, Côte d’Ivoire, according to Kent.
Students Empowering the Poor is a UMW club that works to establish, promote and man events like the Thanksgiving festival.
The club donated money to Empowering the Poor, a non-profit organization based in Fredericksburg. Kent estimated between 350 and 400 people came to the festival.
The Thanksgiving festival included music, games for children and raffles. The club raffled off handmade crafts including Ivorian jewelry and hand-sewn bags from the African village.
The festival also featured eight performances from UMW groups and the community.
Student Bobby Tillet, Garnet Way, the African Drum Club and dancers from the Bhangra Club performed at the event as well as Kyle Marshall, father and son duo Mike Hope and JP and the Tanzanian Refugee Choir of Fredericksburg.
Various vendors attended the event. After each vendor donated $40 to the club, Dunkin Donuts, Ten Thousand Villages and Domino’s set up stands at the event to sell food to those who attended the festival, Kent said. The student group also raised money through donations, raffles and bake sales.
Motivational poster boards with pictures and captions talked about the reason for the festival.
According to Kent, Empowering the Poor’s motto is, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for the rest of his life.”
“The goal of the organization…is to equip poor communities with effective prevention and treatment opportunities in order to combat AIDS and malaria,” Kent said. “Empowering the Poor aims to teach the poor how to become self-reliant and lead sustainable lives, instead of donating a sum of money that will only go so far.”
According to Kent, Empowering the Poor trains individuals to work at health centers and to go to villages in Africa. The volunteers work to spread awareness about disease prevention and to help distribute insecticide-treated bed nets.
“Carnival attendees realized that a health center in Cote d’Ivoire, Africa would literally mean life to a lot of people,” Kent said.