By Marc Hartmann
Saint Mary’s University held its first Voices for Justice event on Nov. 9 to raise awareness for different causes and issues that students see in the world around them while raising money to donate, according to Hall Director (HD) Charissa Jakusz.
Jakusz was one of the primary organizers of the event. The event was held in the Toner Center Dining Hall and consisted of a live auction, musical performances and a presentation from representatives of 10 different causes that were voiced.
“Our goal was that during our centennial year, we could start a program that would tie into our mission of empowering students to ethical lives of service and leadership,” said Jakusz.
The event raised over $2,100. Jakusz exclaimed without hesitation that the event was a huge success. She said, “Being able to give over $700 to each of the three causes far exceeded our expectations.”
Nominations to voice a cause were sent around campus prior to the event. During the event 10 students and organizations voiced their cause and gave the audience an opportunity to vote on their top three causes.
After what Jakusz called “a very close vote,” the three winning charities that split the proceeds were Casa Miller, the Wounded Warriors Project and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. Casa Miller is a school for indigenous boys in Guatemala that was started by Brother James Miller, a SMU alum who gave his life in Guatemala in 1982. The Wounded Warriors Project provides services to severely injured service members during the time from active duty and transition to civilian life. Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare is based in Saint Paul and provides medical and other care to children with disabilities.
The live auction at the event gave members of the audience the opportunity to bid on items donated by members of the SMU and local community. Some of the items included gift certificates to local restaurants, a tablet, free rounds of golf and movie baskets.
Pre-fundraising programs to raise money for the causes voiced at the event were implemented by resident assistants (RA’s) around campus throughout the semester. Some of these events included a car wash, a trash pick-up, a taxi service around campus and a pie your RA/HD. All proceeds from these events went directly to the causes chosen at the event.
Jakusz hopes that the event will be a tradition carried out at SMU for years to come. “Next year hopefully even more people can get involved, and we can raise even more money for some great causes.”
Jakusz expressed special thanks to everyone who came to support the event, the individuals that donated items for the auction, the RA’s who spent time planning the event and students who voiced a cause.