On February the 14th, as Valentine’s Day dawned on the Vassar campus, the Education Committee found it to be a perfect occasion to do some fund-raising for its Education Lunch Program. During a recent crisis of inflation, Haiti experienced a precipitous rise in food prices, one that not only affected the lifestyle of all the members of Chermaître, but also jeopardized the chances for students to get a subsidized meal as part of the education lunch program. The lunch program not only ensures a nutritional proclivity in the student’s diet, but also increases attendance rates of students: two consequences that the committee cannot afford to compromise. Eying a prospective venue to table, the committee found the Cupid’s Flea Market, a joint event presented by Vassar Greens and the Sustainability Committee to promote the sustainable use of resources, just the right place to start at.
The planning process started two weeks in advance. After getting approval from the Vassar Haiti Project Leadership Team, the Education Committee made the project a top priority. It was surprising, to observe, how much the committee could achieve in barely two sittings. What would we sell, who would table, what payment options would be accepted, what should be our financial goal- were just some of the many questions that the committee was quick to identify. Given the nature of the Flea Market, it was decided that food items, along with Haitian art, could make for some lucrative transactions and greater payment options meant greater comfort for our ‘customers’. No goal was set, any monetary help would have been appreciated. A spreadsheet was quickly set up and the plans were put to action.
When the final day arrived, the education team was well-prepared. All the cooking had been done, cupcakes were ready and recipes for Haitian desserts had been tested. The set-up process began sharp at 11:00, an incredible feat considering we were the first booth to set their cash-boxes ringing. The baked goods, including Haitian peanut brittle, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, red velvet cupcakes and salted caramel brownies, were our high-sale items. Thanks to the attractive set-up of our booth, many customers came and looked through our artworks; and even though art sales were pretty rare, we did manage to sell a few post cards. When the time for clean-up arrived, I think all of us unanimously agreed, it was a day well-spent.
Though we just earned $50, given how cold the day had been and how preoccupied everyone’s Valentines’ Day schedule must have been, in retrospect, the sales went well. In this assessment, we really could not account for all the new people we had met, and all the awareness we had spread about our project: an action point that we consider as necessary as any monetary gains.
In conclusion, the amount we fund-raised through our bake sales, in the fall with HEL Comedy Group and in the spring with the Flea Market, may seem small to us, but it did translate to five lunch programs (i.e. four meals per week all year for five children!): an achievement that really means a lot to us. As the first event for the Education Committee comes to an end, we look forward to the rest of the semester. The Education Committee is excited to present the ‘Education and Sustainable Development Dialogue’ coming up on 2nd of April: a discussion-based approach to issues of non-profit international education efforts and critical ways to get involved with education initiatives abroad.
Hoping for the continued success of the Vassar Haiti Project,
The Education Team.