Last week concluded the impromptu Help Ukraine Fundraiser by the student-run club Friends Against Violence. Collecting over a whopping 74, 000czk for in monetary donations and plenty of physical donations to the Nigerian Embassy for Ukrainian refugees of color, they certainly reached their goal. With the hope of surpassing a reasonable goal of 10,000czk, the community blew us all away by more than tripling the original goal! Ahead of their next fundraiser, we caught up with Antoinette, Lauren, and Mathilde to ask them about their experience in responding to the invasion of Ukraine.

“This experience was amazing to me and the Students Against Violence club. I am honored to lead and work with amazing women who all were dedicated to helping Ukrainian civilians. It showed me how collective group work can lead to great achievements that help an important cause.”

Lauren Pray, 2022

How did you find the process of setting up and executing this fundraiser?

It was all a rather quick process. Russia invaded on Thursday and we wanted the fundraiser ready for Monday morning. Lauren and Students against Violence did most of the work and they did a great job.

After Mathilde contacted me, I organized a group of members for volunteers and started planning for how we will execute this fundraiser to exceed our expectations. First, we decided the best way to raise money would be online, through Instagram fundraising. It was easier and, today, most university students have Instagram. Over 23 people signed up to help, our Marketing Chair, Thu Phamova, executed the marketing plan and our Events chair, Hannah Schermer, came up with ways to encourage donations (stickers and ribbons). Overall, my Friday and Weekend were only dedicated to this fundraiser.

Lauren and I were definitely working nonstop to ensure the fundraiser began on Monday. I credit Lauren for the majority of the behind-the-scenes work. While I made the calls to CARE, she coordinated the place, times, and people who helped finalize the details. We’re incredibly thankful to everyone who volunteered and stopped by to donate even fifteen minutes of their time to assist us!

How did the fundraiser surpass your expectations?

I discussed with our CARE representative the original goal of 10.000 czk and was excited to simply hit that mark. However, each day I found myself stunned by the revised emails I sent to CARE updating them on the amount surpassing our expected goal.

I was thinking that we might raise 30,000czk. Nonetheless, the first day we raised over 40,000 and the second day we were at 60,000czk.

“…the fundraiser really went beyond all expectations. I am so very proud of the students for coming together like that.”

Mathilde Kjldbjerg, 2022

What is coming up next for your club activities?

Students against violence have an agenda driven by change this semester. We are planning another fundraiser dedicated specifically to assisting the Nigerian Embassy. They are currently helping Ukrainians who are being turned away from other borders due to the color of their skin. Though we brought physical donations recently, we want to now collect monetary donations as well.

Also, we are working on improving the AAU Sexual Assault Policy at AAU, making sure that the victims in these situations are encouraged to come out and undergo a fair investigation by providing a third-party investigator with Sexual Assault experience in all cases. Currently, we are negotiating with management and members are gathering signatures for the petition to showcase student support for these changes.

Once again, all of us at AAU are incredibly proud of our students in their response to this crisis – whether that be fundraisers, communicating your needs, thoughts and issues, or making suggestions to improve your experience here. Our community is a continuous source of inspiration and motivation in making AAU the best it can be!