Benedictine student club named UNICEF’s 2014 Chapter of the Year
Lisle, Illinois ~ Benedictine University’s student-led chapter of the United Nations Children’s Fund is small enough to care, and now big enough to change the world.
According to one of the world’s largest relief organizations, the club ranks among the best and most influential philanthropic student organizations in the nation.
In October, BenU UNICEF was presented the 2014 “Chapter of the Year” award at UNICEF’s Annual Campus Initiative Summit in Boca Raton, Fla., for “helping to educate, advocate and fundraise for the world’s children.”
The club also placed third – behind only the University of Notre Dame and The Ohio State University – in the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF and Association of College Unions International “Help Us Save Some Lives Campus Challenge,” after raising more than $10,500 to support UNICEF’s mission of assisting children with basic needs for water, food, shelter, health care and education.
A total of 239 campuses participated, raising more than $150,000.
BenU UNICEF formed three years ago with zero dollars, six students and a vision for supporting efforts to curb the senseless suffering of children around the world.
Today, BenU UNICEF ranks as one of the most popular student-led clubs on Benedictine’s Lisle campus with nine board members and 40 active volunteers, involving more than 100 student participants. The club regularly holds fundraisers and other events to enlighten and engage the campus community on some of the challenges faced by children living in conflict zones, natural disaster areas or in some of the most dangerous, remote and destitute regions of the world.
Events have included a “water relay” which challenges participants to race across campus and collect water in jugs. The activity serves as a gentle reminder that clean drinking water isn’t available at the simple turn of a faucet for everyone in the world. The club has also established an annual hunger banquet on campus to generate awareness among attendees of the unequal distribution of food recourses locally and globally, and has sent petitions and letters to local and national leaders expressing support for various humanitarian-based programs and legislation.
Several other events are also held sporadically as news spreads of more pressing public health concerns. Earlier this month, the club held “Bowling for Ebola” to support Ebola relief. A “Nothing But Nets” basketball tournament and informational program on the effectiveness of mosquito netting in combating the spread of malaria will be held on Saturday, November 22, at the Rice Center.
Each day, more than 17,000 children die predominantly from preventable or treatable causes, and nearly half of all deaths under age 5 are due to under nutrition, according to UNICEF. It’s a statistic BenU UNICEF members say they want to help put to an end.
“Our mission is to engage Benedictine students in the national grassroots campaign and support UNICEF by contributing to its mission of bringing the number of children dying of preventable causes down to zero,” said Sree Bodepudi, a senior Biology/Pre-Medicine major from Naperville and BenU UNICEF president. “The success of this organization is due to the commitment of our leadership team and volunteers to address these global issues.”
Future plans for BenU UNICEF include the addition of other events to encourage more students to participate and continue fundraising efforts to support UNICEF, including collaborations with similar high school groups and other student organizations in the area.
Students who participate in BenU UNICEF gain hands-on leadership skills that better prepares them for success in their future careers and in life.