SMC club raises money for orphans
Martha Reilly | Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Over 6,000 miles separate South Bend from Beijing, China, but members of Saint Mary’s China Care Club — which donates money to medically fragile Chinese orphans — prove they can go the distance to raise awareness about an underrepresented global cause.
Sophomore Grace Haase, founder and president of China Care Club, said all funds raised from events go toward OneSky, a foundation that sponsors an orphanage in Beijing and aims to enhance children’s quality of life.
“The money we send to OneSky provides caretakers for the children because they’re very understaffed,” Haase said. “Another thing it does is fund surgeries for clubfoot and cleft palate, which are deformities that can be fixed with a simple surgery, which really heightens a child’s chance of getting adopted.”
According to Haase, joining this club can expand members’ worldviews while helping them gain new perspectives and avenues of understanding.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn about China in and of itself,” Haase said. “Having service oriented causes … sort of teaches [students] that there’s more to life than the bubble they grew up in.”
Gabby Kooi, junior club member, said she was adopted from China and feels compelled to give back to children who are not as fortunate.
“There are other girls who are not so lucky and who have severe medical issues that are not treated properly,” Kooi said. “There are some cases of malnourishment and abuse depending on where they are.”
According to Kooi, a high percentage of orphans in China are female, which should motivate Saint Mary’s students to fulfill the College’s mission and help other women.
“It’s the idea of women empowering one another,” Kooi said. “Saint Mary’s key goal is to raise an independent woman to have values. What the OneSky organization does is try to bring equal rights to those girls who don’t have the ability to get them.”
Kooi said China Care Club offers her the opportunity to bond with other students through organized events — such as teaching members hip hop dance and listening to Korean pop music — but her membership also reminds her of her roots.
“To me, it gives me another connection to where I’m from,” she said. “Even though I’m not there, I’m trying to give them a way out. There’s an organization out there that wants to help.”
According to sophomore member Riley Harber, belonging to China Care Club allows students to fight for a cause without engaging in intense activity.
“If it’s more accessible, people will be more willing to do it, so I think this a really great way to … make a change in a way that people will be able to do at whatever level of commitment they can,” Harber said. “This is a really good way to get involved with something that doesn’t get a lot of awareness but is still a really important cause and is also a lot of fun.”
China Care Club strengthens the College’s comprehensive mission to instill values of service and selfless love in its students.
“As a Catholic women’s college, we’re very focused as an institution on helping other people,” Harber said. “If you’re a better person, you can go out and be good at helping other people.”
According to Harber, several friendships have evolved among members of China Care Club, as it unites like-minded individuals.
“I think this is a cause that people really want to get behind,” she said. “[The club] builds community not only in that we’re reaching out and helping people who need it, but also that we’re connecting Belles.”
Kooi said witnessing the dedication of her peers to such a worthy cause reminds her how powerful women are.
“Saint Mary’s women say ‘Even though we’re women, we’re not going to be held back,’” Kooi said. “We’re going to help others.”