In the closing months of the spring 2011 semester, the executive cabinet of Loyola University Maryland’s Student Government Association (SGA) led a fundraising campaign that raised $4,000 for “Free a Village: Jesuit School Challenge,” a project supporting Free the Slaves, a Washington-based NGO that aims to liberate communities around the world from slavery.
Loyola’s contribution is a significant step toward the Challenge’s goal of raising a total of $20,000 from five participating schools, which, in addition to Loyola, included the University of San Francisco, Creighton University, Xavier University, and challenge organizer Loyola Marymount University. That $20,000 figure is roughly what Free the Slaves estimates it costs to free a village in the first year of its three-year program aimed at permanently eliminating pockets of slavery. Funds pay for school for children, job training for women, and activities that organize villages to resist slavery.
The SGA leveraged relationships and partnerships with numerous other campus organizations in an effort to reach its initial goal of $3,000, but SGA leaders were thrilled this week when they learned that they had far exceeded that amount. Danielle Melfi, ’13, director of student affairs for the SGA, attributes the success to the SGA’s hard work and the generosity of partners on and off campus.
“I don’t think anyone thought that it would be this successful,” said Melfi. “It was the most incredible feeling to know all the puzzle pieces came together.”
The most significant donations came from vendors at Loyolapalooza, who contributed 10 percent of their proceeds from sales at the event, and the Alumni Memorial Chapel Easter offering.
As a result of the outpouring of support, Free the Slaves has asked Loyola to become an official college chapter, and Melfi and the SGA already have a vision for what’s to come. During the spring campaign the SGA reached out to the global studies program and was able to secure the help of three students taking the program’s senior seminar class. In the future the SGA wants to extend Free the Slaves’ educational information to other areas of study and academic departments so more students develop a clear understanding of issues related to slavery and human trafficking.
Loyola SGA video for the “Free a Village: Jesuit School Challenge”:
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