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Friends of Israel fundraises for pediatric cardiac care

Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 12:02

FOI

Danai Macridi / Tufts Daily

Friends of Israel sponsored a weeklong fundraiser for the international pediatric-health nonprofit Save A Child’s Heart.

In a weeklong, Valentine's Day−themed fundraising campaign that concluded Friday, Tufts Friends of Israel (FOI) raised over $1,400 for an international pediatric health nonprofit.

FOI's campaign benefited Save A Child's Heart (SACH), an Israeli nonprofit organization that provides care to children with heart disease in developing countries around the world, according to FOI President Daniel Bleiberg, a sophomore. Through collaboration with other campus organizations, the group was able to exceed its original goal of $1,000.

"The aim is to improve [care] where there are no cardiac surgeons by sending medical personnel out to find the children and then bringing them and their families to the organization for free," FOI Communications Chair Erica Feldman, a freshman, said.

During a trip to Israel over winter break, several FOI board members, including Feldman, spent a day at the house where SACH patients stay and were inspired to bring the organization's work to Tufts, Feldman said.

"Part of the program involved spending one day at the house of the organization, where we got to meet a lot of kids," she said.

Upon returning to the Hill, the FOI members who went on the trip decided to launch a philanthropy initiative on behalf of SACH with the goals of spreading awareness of the organization and raising funds, according to Feldman.

"We really wanted to do something this semester for the Friends of Israel, and this seemed like a cause that the campus could unite on," Feldman said.

Although run by FOI, the campaign was a collaborative effort, according to FOI Cultural Chair Sharonne Holtzman, a sophomore.

"The program is sponsored by Friends of Israel, but we've had help from many non−affiliated organizations," Holtzman said. "It bridges people together and leads to all different kinds of communications."

Feldman agreed that the collaborative effort allowed the campaign to appeal to a wider group of students.

"We've had girls from Chi Omega running our tables, and Zeta Psi was very helpful in helping us to achieve our goal by throwing us our kickoff party," Feldman said. "We really feel like we're reaching out to the wider Tufts community with this awareness campaign."

The fundraising campaign included a Valentine's Day candy−delivery service, a cookie−decorating table in the Mayer Campus Center, information tables in the Dewick−MacPhie Dining Center and a Valentine's Day−themed ticketed party held by the Zeta Psi fraternity.

"SACH has a national Valentine's Day week awareness campaign, so we're trying to start a tradition here," Holtzman said. "People were really receptive to it, which is very exciting."

The campaign, Holtzman believed, has raised FOI's profile among the student body and allowed the organization to become more involved with other campus groups, including several Greek chapters.

Bleiberg said the group initially planned for a smaller campaign, wanting to gauge student response.

"Originally, we were realistic in our goals and wanted to focus on awareness, but people showed initiative and really stepped up," Bleiberg said.

The success of this week's initiative has spurred interest among members of FOI in holding the campaign on an annual basis, Bleiberg said.

"I've been hearing a lot of buzz about making this a yearly tradition," Bleiberg said. "It's been overwhelmingly successful and has really exceeded our expectations."

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