Miami Dade College students preparing for annual ‘All-Nighter for Haiti’

By Tere Estorino….
In 2009, more than 300 Miami Dade College (MDC) students led a hugely successful fundraising effort to help fight hunger and poverty in Haiti.

This year, student leaders have planned an even larger campaign for the “All-Nighter for Haiti,” beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 15, and continuing until 7 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, at the college’s Fred Shaw Memorial Plaza on the Kendall Campus, 11011 SW 104 St.

Last year’s 12-hour event was one of South Florida’s largest fundraisers led entirely by college students. In the end, the students raised more than $23,000 that included a combination of donations as well as proceeds from food sales during the event.

“Our goal is to raise $40,000 — double that of last year’s achievement — to further fund the construction of sustainable tilapia farms in Haiti,” said Stuart Williams, an MDC professor who has mentored and worked closely with the student philanthropists the past two years.

The “All-Nighter for Haiti” event will usher in the start of World Food Day, a global campaign to heighten public awareness of the world’s hunger problem and strengthen international solidarity in the struggle against malnutrition and poverty, as well as draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development. The idea for the overnight fundraiser materialized when a group of MDC Honors College students attended the Salzburg Global Seminar in Salzburg, Austria.

After the seminar they were inspired to take on a project they already had been thinking about for quite some time — to help fight hunger and poverty in Haiti. As a result, the students created a college-wide organization, Students Aiding International Development (SAID). SAID’s mission is to raise awareness about the harsh and deplorable suffering in underdeveloped nations. It has partnered with MDC’s Center for Community Involvement and Food For The Poor (FFTP), an international charity based in South Florida that provides food, shelter, and medicine to poor citizens in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. FFTP also is a co-sponsor of this year’s “All-Nighter For Haiti” event.

Since formalizing their efforts with the creation of their student group SAID, the students have established an online presence with a website as well as corporate sponsorships. This year SAID also has been working with Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Student Government Association, among other Student Life groups, on multiple campuses to garner an even more effective campaign. Leading up to this year’s event, the students raised nearly $3,000 through active campaign efforts.

“Our idea of a successful event will mean increased awareness among students and community members about the abject poverty that persists in Haiti and around our globe, and to engage MDC students in a rewarding experience that gives them civic, leadership and team-building skills,” Williams said.

“Ultimately, this project is about transforming the lives of those who have suffered from the perils brought about by war and poverty for far too long and to demonstrate that our students are capable of confronting the challenges that face our globe. Our students are leaders of both today and tomorrow.”

For more information about “All-Nighter For Haiti” or to donate, visit online at www.allnighter.org.

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