The Catholic University of America

Oct. 15, 2007

Student Organizations Sponsor Penny Wars

Fundraiser for Refugee Children in Tanzania Has Link to Opus Prize

Christine Hunkele (left), president of the Biology Club, accepts donations for Penny Wars.
Several student organizations are sponsoring a Penny Wars fundraiser through Wednesday, Oct. 24, to raise money to send T-shirts to children in Tanzania.

The Biology Club, Nursing Students Association, CUA Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Green Club are raising funds from 5 to 7 p.m. in the lobby of the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. As of Monday, Oct. 22, they had raised $450.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will help Associate Professor Thomas Long finish a personal project he started last summer after returning from Kigoma, Tanzania, where he taught for a month at the Institute for Social Work. Touched by the needs of the children he met there, many of them refugees, the education department professor began collecting T-shirts to send back to Tanzania.

Marion Ficke, assistant to the chair of the biology department, heard about Long's efforts and spoke to the Biology Club about helping him. Club president Christine Hunkele said club members approached Long about donating T-shirts, but he said what he really needed was funding to ship shirts he already had to Tanzania. Approximately 2,500 T-shirts have already been donated.

"We have so much that we take for granted and Dr. Long is trying to provide for those who don't have the same," Hunkele says. "It's a shame that Dr. Long still has the shirts here; he just needs a way to get them there."

Associate Professor of Education Tom Long and his students in Africa.

Though initiated independently, the fundraiser has a link to the Opus Prize, which will be awarded by the Opus Prize Foundation, in partnership with Catholic University, to an unsung humanitarian Thursday, Nov. 8, at the Pryzbyla Center. One of this year's prize finalists is Brother Constant Goetschalckx, F.C., founder and director of AHADI Institute, Tanzania. The Institute for Social Work is an offshoot of AHADI. Professor Long traveled to Tanzania at the invitation of Brother Goetschalckx.

When the Opus Prize Committee on campus heard about Hunkele's efforts, it invited her to associate the fundraiser with Opus Prize programming being organized in advance of the dinner. Hunkele accepted and in exchange, the committee agreed to publicize the fundraiser.

For the fundraiser, the university is divided into seven teams that will compete against each other to raise the most money. Five of the teams are divided by residence neighborhoods - North Campus One and Two, South Campus, Central Campus and Centennial Village. The two remaining groups are made up of commuter students and CUA faculty and staff.

A team earns a point for each penny dropped in its jar. A team loses points for each donated "silver" coin or paper bill, with a quarter resulting in the loss of 25 points; a dollar, 100, etc. The scoring system enables a team to play offensively as well as defensively by filling its own jar with pennies and filling other jars with larger denominations. The organizations sponsoring the Penny Wars will throw a party for the winning group.

Hunkele said she hopes the fundraiser will raise about $1,000, the cost of sending the T-shirts overseas.

"I have been really impressed by the Catholic University students who have indicated a willingness to help in this effort," Long says. "There is a lot of work to be done in this area of Tanzania."