For our Choose Charity event, Young Americans for Liberty @ El Camino College focused on fundraising for a local charity for four days on campus during the last week of November, as well as volunteering at a charity off-campus.
We selected Loaves and Fishes, a private charity in Torrance that holds a monthly banquet serving hot meals and clothing to the homeless. We chose this charity because a few of our club members have had previous experience volunteering there and have noticed over the years that more people are coming in to receive services because they are struggling to find work, feed their kids, and pay the bills.
So, the focus of our activity was also to raise awareness on the economy and the failure of our welfare programs. We wanted to show students that we should choose voluntary charity over being coerced to pay into a broken system that doesn’t offer real morality, or more importantly, real security. By supporting our community voluntarily, we are setting example that will ideally influence our culture.
To attract students to the booth, we wore festive elf hats and chimed tin bells. Some curious students would come over from the other side of campus just to see what the bells were for. We also displayed a vinyl “Choose Charity” banner and a soup-can pyramid to indicate that canned goods, clothes, and blankets would be accepted throughout the four days of fundraising.
We tied the theme together by setting up a tall gift-wrapped prop which was a visual representation of the donation gift that would go to the charity. Donors had the option of writing their name on a gift tag and placing it on the present along with a bow to show that they contributed. The prop was simply put together by recycling our ‘Free Speech’ wall (from our last event) by covering it in wrapping paper, velvet ribbon, and a large bow.
Some students donated whatever change they had in their pockets while others donated generous amounts. One student in particular donated a generous $20, reasoning that, “I know what it feels like to struggle and have nothing.” The anonymous donor signed the prop present with, “To: Hope, From: Love”.
While many students were able to donate, some were not. One student expressed that he and his sick father have been struggling with a near-empty fridge. He was grateful to take home cans of food (that were donated) to share with his father for dinner. Another student was also grateful for the fundraising effort, as she and her family too have been struggling and previously received meals from Loaves and Fishes.
Whether it was a few pennies or a few dollars, students who donated participated in a great cause to assist their neighbors. And as an added perk, everyone who donated got a complimentary candy cane!
We also had tons of educational ‘gifts’ that students were welcome to take! Some goodies included pocket Constitutions (popular!), copies of the recent issue of Young American Revolution, YAL cards, and stickers. We also had stacks of the book After the Welfare State, edited by Tom G. Palmer, which were made available by Students for Liberty. Some students had fun taking the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz”, which was provided by The Advocates for Self-Government. All of these resources were excellent tools in starting thought-provoking discussions on the economy, the welfare state, the purpose of government, and the principles of liberty. Thus, thirty-one students interested in our club signed up to our mailing list!
Overall, our Choose Charity event was successful! Our dedicated club members who spent approximately 26 hours fundraising (at one point in the rain!) were able to collect large amounts of canned food and clothing and $175, which is almost half the cost the charity spends on one banquet! Seven students (in addition to the chapter members) signed up to volunteer at Loaves and Fishes, and on Dec. 15 we all put in effort to serve hot meals, pass out clothing, and clean up at the charity banquet. Many of the volunteers enjoyed their experience and are planning on regularly participating.
The most rewarding part though was that those who received our services were able to feed their families and stay warm during the winter with the clothes that were donated. Giving back to our community was a wonderful way to end the Fall semester.
For more photos visit our Flickr page — or watch the slideshow video below!