It’s Christmastime in the city, and everywhere. During this time, you’re probably hanging out with your best friends, especially friends from high school and enjoying good food. How about instead of going out with your friends, you host a dinner party for charity?
Eat So They Can is an amazing organization through the Global Volunteer Network. It is still brand new and in 2007, the first ever Eat So They Can dinner occurred in conjunction with the UN’s World Food Day.
I sat down with Emily Hamsher, former CL intern, Eat So They Can Ambassador, Volunteer, and all-around fabulous lady to talk more about the organization and how you can get involved!
CL: In your words, what is Eat So They Can?
Emily: Eat So They Can (ESTC) is an international fundraiser that raises money for four main causes: 1) orphaned and vulnerable children, 2) women’s empowerment, 3) anti-trafficking and 4) emergency relief for third world countries, specifically Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Peru, Haiti, and Thailand. The basic idea is that people all around the world can host dinner parties to raise money for these causes!
CL: How did you get involved in ESTC?
Emily: Well, ESTC is a co-initiative of the Global Volunteer Network, an organization that connects those who want to volunteer around the world with different opportunities. In 2007, a friend of mine went to Uganda and taught and traveled and whenever I saw her pictures, I knew it was something that I wanted to get involved with. I made the decision to go to Mukono, Uganda, and volunteer at a school where many of the children were orphaned as a result of HIV?AIDS. I raised money from friends and family, and in June, 2008, I traveled to Uganda as part of a program called “The Real Uganda,” which the Global Volunteer Network supports.
The experience was truly life changing for me. I have always done a lot of traveling, but being in a country so drastically different from my own, completely by myself really forced me to open my eyes and truly experience the culture of the people around me. I fell in love with the students I taught and the places I traveled during my time in Uganda, and when I returned home, it was all I could think about. I knew I wanted to do more. Whenever I received information about the Eat So They Can campaign in a Global Volunteer Network newsletter, I saw it as a great opportunity to stay involved with the causes that were now dear to my heart.
CL: You’re an ambassador this year, congratulations! How did that come to be?
Emily: I applied for the position and I got selected. As an ambassador, I oversee other events and act as a kind of spokesperson for Eat So They Can to help spread the word!
CL: So, how can a college student get involved?
Emily: Well, it’s great because it can be as big or as small as you want.It can be five girlfriends getting together for wine and all making a small donation to a larger scale event like what I did on campus. No donation is too small and the main point is to help raise awareness. Regardless of how little we may have to give, I think it is important to have that reminder that someone has even less than you.
CL: What did you do on campus?
Emily: Having the amazing sorority sisters that I have, I pitched the idea to them to hold a campus-wide event that we could sponsor to help spread the word. They all jumped on board, and last year we held the first ever Eat So They Can dinner at Duquesne University. The dinner had a Mystery Theater theme and students from different organizations on campus helped out to put on a Whodunit? play during the dinner. The campus was really supportive and we raised about $600.00 for the cause. This year, I passed on the torch to a younger member and we raised around $1000.00 for ESTC!
CL: That’s fantastic! On campus, you sold jewlery at ESTC, can you tell us more about that?
Emily: That’s not directly connected to ESTC, but it’s equally as fantastic! It is part of the Grassroots Uganda Initiative, but the funds are more in line with Grassroots Uganda – Empowering African Women. The goal is to help Ugandan women help themselves. The jewelery we sold is made by Ugandan women and 100% of the profits go back to those women. To find out more, and to look at the jewelery, check out their website: http://www.meaningfulshop.org/craftgroup/craftgroup.aspx?ID=1
CL: Anything else you wanna tell our readers, Emily?
Emily: It’s not too late to host an event for this year! People have until the end of December to host a party and, like I said, it can be big or small. They can just visit www.eatsotheycan.org to sign up, and they will be sent a packet with all the resources they need and information on how to submit the funds they raise. Again, no amount is too small!! Five dollars is a lot of meals for a child living in one of these countries.
Like Emily said, it’s getting close to the new year, but it’s not too late. While hanging out with your girlfriends, collect like ten or fifteen dollars and send it in. This is a really great cause and it’s so easy to do. It’s one of my favorite things that happens on campus and it’s just leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy. Emily’s one statement stands to be repeated again, especially at the holidays: “Regardless of how little we may have to give, I think it is important to have that reminder that someone has even less than you.”
Happy Holidays!!! For more information, check out the Eat So They Can website!
Briana Simko is senior English and Theater Arts major at Duquesne University and a proud sister of Alpha Sigma Tau sorority. She is in LOVE with the concept of Eat So They Can and thinks it’s a really great thing to get involved in. She loves all kinds of giving at the holidays and thinks it’s really underrated.