by Laura Maginley
Students enrolled in Lynn O’Brien’s Introduction to Anthropology course at Montgomery County Community College strategically fundraised in an assortment of virtual and physical ways to produce real dollars for local charities. Spring 2013 was the first semester for the project after O’Brien, an Anthropology instructor, thought of ways for her students to become more civically responsible. She wanted to have her students act instead of solely read about the poor, impoverished or politically weak.
“Since I can’t ask students to go abroad and volunteer, my alternative was to raise money here in the U.S. to help people already working abroad to make the world a better place,” she explained. “Through this project, students spend some time researching organizations that are trying to help people outside the U.S. and learn to recognize some of the impacts that our global world has on small-scale societies.”
Each of O’Brien’s classes selected a charity and worked in smaller groups to reach the largest sum to donate to the classes’ respective charities. These smaller groups within the courses were given full reign over their designated positions and group dynamics.
The five charities that the five courses raised money for this spring included Somaly Mam Foundation, Love 146, Aid for Africa, 4 Paws for Ability and Doctors Without Borders. From raising awareness to money through online fundraisers, students utilized all of their resources to raise the maximum amount of cash.
The largest amount of money raised by one small group was $360 through a bake sale held in a grocery store, which was given to 4 Paws for Ability. In total, that particular class raised $805 for 4 Paws for Ability.
Students were evaluated on their PowerPoint presentations, peer assessments and fundraising success. For her summer course, O’Brien wants to change the fundraising portion of the course to pass or fail.
“I hope to motivate them to raise even more money, although I recognize the six-week length of the course limits them,” she said.
O’Brien wants students to learn about a variety of cultures and take away new ways of thinking.
“I want my students to be more inclusive and accepting of others, both in our own culture but also in understanding others outside of the U.S.,” she stated.