Rotaract Club holds coin drive to benefit Global Polio Eradication Initiative

Morgan Gisholt Minard, Contributing Writer

The University’s Rotaract Club held a coin drive in the Elaine Langone Center (ELC) Mall from Oct. 22-24 as part of its Change for Change project to raise funds for Rotary International’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

It costs 60 cents to vaccinate a child for poliomyelitis virus. From the coin drive, the club raised $414.59 from student, faculty, and staff donations, but through a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the donations received during the coin drive were tripled to raise $1,243.77 in total.

“Everyone in the Bucknell Rotaract Club is really excited with this result,” Director of Community Service for the Rotaract Club Adam Walsh ’15 said.

The club was established on campus last February with the goal of identifying and addressing the needs of people in the local University community. The club has partnered with over 20 local businesses to increase the scope of the Change for Change project and participated in the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail Cleanup earlier this year.

“We started this club with the simple goal of doing good in the world and I am pleased to say that our current achievements only mark the beginning of greater things to come,” Rotaract Club President Caesar Vulley ’15 said.

The club is an affiliate of Rotary International, which is a global service organization that aims to bring together business and world leaders to provide humanitarian efforts around the world and to encourage high ethical standards of living and global governance.

In accordance with the goals of Rotary International, the University’s Rotaract Club has adopted several of Rotary International’s philanthropic endeavors as their own, including the GPEI, which is supported by several worldwide institutions such as UNICEF, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO). According to its official website, the GPEI has immunized over 2.5 billion children against polio thanks to over 20 million volunteers worldwide.

Polio is a highly infectious disease that overrides the nervous system and can cause paralysis or death in a matter of hours. It mainly affects children under the age of five, and remains widespread in many regions of South Asia and Western Africa. As of 2013, there were only 416 active cases in the countries where children are still at risk, including Afghanistan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syrian Arab Republic. In 1988, there were over 350,000 cases throughout 125 countries. With a 99 percent decline of polio worldwide, the GPEI been has almost fully achieved its goal of “banishing polio to the history books.”

The great success experienced by the Rotaract Club with the coin drive will provide for the vaccination of over 2,000 children in the remaining affected countries. Vulley noted that he is “really proud of [his] brilliant team and the work [they] have done so far … [and is] even more excited about all the plans [they] have for future semesters.”

Future plans for the club include a partnership with Beyond Unison and The Offbeats to hold two a capella concerts at retirement homes in the coming weeks, a holiday toy drive at the Donald Heiter Community Center, and involvement with the Lewisburg Sunset Rotary Club with service efforts throughout the year.

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