StFX for SAFE (Syria-Antigonish Families Embrace) began a fundraising campaign Jan. 15, a day the Catholic Church identifies as the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
Kristian Rasenberg, president of StFX for SAFE, noted the campaign, Pause for the Cause, was something they started last year which was “mildly successful.”
“This year we’re hoping it’s much bigger,” Rasenberg said in conversation with the Casket Jan. 13.
“In an online world, and social media world, we decided to launch this as a social media thing; so you take a video of yourself and, in the video, challenge three more people, family and friends alike. Everyone is going to put these videos online, hopefully, and there are two ways to donate; you can donate on our website or you can just send an email, transfer the money.”
He noted the hope is the videos will be posted on the group’s Facebook page and added their website (www.stfxforsafe.ca) is new and includes a link to make donations directly to SAFE.
As an example of a ‘pause’ Rasenberg noted part of his routine is purchasing a morning coffee.
“So let’s say I buy 10 coffees a month and that’s $20; so my pause is to not buy the coffees and put the $20 towards the cause,” he said.
“The point is, I’m making a small sacrifice from my daily routine and anyone can do that. That’s the great part about this, it’s up to you, how do you want to do it? Maybe it could coincide with your 2017 goals?
“Hopefully there are a lot of challenges and responses.”
Rasenberg noted there really isn’t a set end date for the campaign as the group wanted to leave it open at this point.
“If it takes off we don’t want to say, this is going on for a month … because it may not take off [right away]. So we’ll let it fizzle out … when it stops, it stops.”
He talked about the benefit of an online campaign, noting its similarity, in that regard, to the popular Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS from a few years back.
“We’re hoping to reach alumni and we’re thinking online is a good way to do that,” he said, adding that includes his older brother who graduated from the university.
“St. F.X. has such a strong alumni connection across the country and world, really, so, hopefully, we can get some big names to do the challenge and participate.”
He reiterated the point about this being a way for anybody, and everybody, to contribute.
“The message is the everyday person can contribute to something good and, together, when we all start to believe that, the result can be huge,” he said.
“We encourage people to participate in any cause … you could really do this [the pause concept] for anything.
“Students often ask; ‘well, what can I do with such a big problem, such a big situation?’ Well, doing nothing is the one thing you shouldn’t be doing … if that’s your attitude, nothing will ever get done.
“So we’re just trying to encourage people to do something.”
A first-year education student at St. F. X., after obtaining his undergraduate degree last spring, Rasenberg noted he hopes StFX for SAFE, which started up in November of 2015, remains beyond his time at the university.
“We have a very strong group this year with most students being in their third or fourth year,” he said.
“My plan is; I don’t want this to stop and I don’t think, once we reach our goal we’ll stop.
“We’re going to continue to exist in this university system. It’s certainly in the back of our minds; ‘OK, who is going to take over and keep this going’”
He added there is a lot of support for the group from St. F.X. faculty and that’s a good basis for its work to continue as core members graduate and move away from the university.
“We just have to get other students involved. A lot of that just has to do with getting exposure and having students recognize there is a society on campus that is trying to do something about this situation.
“And StFX for SAFE does more than just raise money – we’re trying to raise awareness.”
As part of that awareness piece, and to raise a little bit of money, StFX for SAFE and the WUSC (World University Service of Canada) Society are co-hosting the showing of Salem Neighbour, this Thursday (Jan. 26), 7 p.m., in Nicholson Hall – room 151.
“It’s a documentary done by these two guys at a refugee camp in Jordan,” Rasenberg said. “It shows the ins-and-outs of that refugee camp, specifically.
“It’s donations at the door and we’ll hear from two guest speakers,” he added.