By Emily Feldmesser
What better way to raise money for charity than with food and friends? That was the idea behind the Oct. 10 fundraiser at J. Gumbo’s, benefitting the Girl Rising campaign.
Sophomore Zoe Morris, a resident of the Women’s House, organized the fundraiser as part of her house project.
Girl Rising, according to the organization’s website, is a global action campaign for girl’s education, which it says “dramatically improve(s) the well-being of (girls’) families, their communities and their countries—multiplying the impact on society.”
Girl Rising is also partnered with the World Vision organization. According to its website, World Vision is “a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to each their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.”
Morris said the organization “distributes resources to a number of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that promote the education of women in the developing world.” She said their efforts range from advocacy to the construction of schools.
Morris said being an education major was one of her motivations for this fundraiser.
“I believe strongly in education as (a) mechanism of change and social justice,” she said. “Education is, in my opinion, the most sustainable form of change there is. When people become more educated, they are better able to give back to their communities. Economies grow, health improves and peace is made longer lasting.”
Morris also said women have greatly decreased access to education for many reasons, which detracts from their communities’ well being.
“When girls are educated, they make more money, marry later, are less likely to contract HIV and have fewer children,” she said.
When planning this fundraiser, Morris thought of J. Gumbo’s, the Cajun food restaurant on Sandusky St., as an ideal venue.
“Last year, the Washington, D.C., mission trip held this type of fundraiser at J. Gumbo’s, and it was really successful,” she said. “Other than (raising money for the organization), I wanted to be able to include both the campus community and the Delaware community in this cause.”
When Morris approached Richard Upton, J. Gumbo’s owner, about holding her fundraiser at the restaurant, he gladly accepted.
“There are three reasons why I wanted to get involved with this event,” Upton said. “I agree with the need to provide education on an equal and fair basis for females and I appreciate Zoe’s passion for the project. I like seeing young people doing positive things other than personal gain and recognition. Finally, I am always looking for ways to collaborate with OWU and showcase students to the Delaware community.”
Upton said this event was the biggest turnout to date. He said students were lined up five minutes before the official start time.
Sophomore Erin Parker said she thought the event was “really fun” and agreed with its cause.
“I believe that women around the world should be offered the same opportunity of education as men have,” she said.
Adding to the atmosphere was sophomore Alex Paquet, who was performing live music for the people attending the fundraiser.
Junior Liam Dennigan said, “Overall, I had a really good time and was glad I could support the cause.”
Upton said their “Give Back Night” program gives “100 percent of tips of the day of an event go to the fundraising entity.” He said J. Gumbo’s does not pay its employees based on tips.
“The entity will also receive at least 10 percent of food, beverage and other sales, while 50 percent of ice cream sales go to the entity,” he said.
Morris said the money raised will be given to the 10×10 Foundation and will be distributed to its affiliated organizations, such as Room to Read and Girl Up. Part of the proceeds will contribute to bring a screening of the film “Girl Rising” to OWU.