February 23, 2019 | 37° F

Rutgers UNICEF chapter spreads awareness for struggling children across the world


Over 70 organizations benefit yearly from fundraising efforts coordinated by Rutgers UNICEF. This year, the organization will focus on World Children’s Day, raising awareness for children struggling with terminal illness and living impoverished lives.

More than 3,000 children die from cancer each year, according to the Amanda Riley Foundation. To counter this and other childhood terminal illnesses, the Rutgers UNICEF chapter will host a fundraiser for World Children’s Day. 

The club has been working on informing the community about the work that UNICEF does by planning the fundraiser. The annually observed day of awareness promotes "international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide and improving children's welfare," according to the United Nations website.

Olga Yiantsos, the public relations officer for Rutgers UNICEF, said it is the duty of Rutgers UNICEF to educate students about how living conditions vary for children across the world. 

The School of Engineering junior said that they want to focus this upcoming World Children’s Day on kids who struggle with terminal illnesses and children who live in impoverished countries.  

“It’s a day that has been internationally established as a day to celebrate children and make aware the problems that children face and how certain problems affect children more than adults because children are unable to take care for themselves,” Yiantsos said. 

Rutgers UNICEF holds fundraisers for 70 different organizations and causes throughout the year, World Children’s Day being one of them. 

Kajol Bhatia, the president of Rutgers UNICEF, is planning a meeting with the club to focus on World Children’s Day this upcoming Monday.

“Our job is to educate the Rutgers community on what UNICEF does and issues around the world that UNICEF helps with. In the meeting we are gonna talk about it with our members on what exactly we want to do for World Children’s Day, ” the School of Arts and Sciences senior said.

Every Rutgers UNICEF meeting focuses on a specific cause, often tied to an upcoming national day of awareness. In recent months, Rutgers UNICEF has acknowledged World AIDS Day, International Day of Non-Violence and International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Last December, the club held a holiday-themed raffle for low-income homes with young children. The prizes and gifts that were given away were often donated to them by local companies and charitable organizations.  

Bhatia said that for World Children’s Day the club likes to do something that is fun, in order to draw attention to the joys of being a young child and inspire others to be more charitable to kids in need. Last year, the members enjoyed a game of musical chairs in the meeting room.

“Since it's Children’s Day, we want people to remember how to be a kid and have a lot of fun. Just to remind them that it’s okay to be a kid, and hopefully get them thinking about all of the children around the world who don’t get to have a lot of fun due to circumstance," Bhatia said.

Yiantsos said Rutgers UNICEF's main goal is to help out children and provide them with essentials, such as food and medicine. Right now, the club is sponsoring a child receiving treatment at a local hospital who is in the RU4Kids Program through the Embrace Kids Foundation.

“We believe at Rutgers UNICEF that regardless of what these children go through, that they are entitled to as much health care and education that we all receive, and since they are kids they deserve to live their childhood regardless of these things,” Yiantsos said. “So we try very hard to make them smile and give them certain gifts just to make their lives just a little more normal to live as normal children who don’t live with diseases or struggle with poverty.”

Bhatia wants to use the day to remind everyone about how children view the world and urge people to remember their childhoods. By doing this, the club can help create some sympathy for those kids all around the globe who desperately need our help, she said. 

“We're all stressed out, and we all have things to do, but it’s important to remember that some things aren’t that big. If you take things the way that kids take them, things become way more easier,” Bhatia said.

Jacob Turchi

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