Wednesday, November 2, 2011

OU group raises money with music

    A University of Oklahoma group raised money for Rwandan AIDS prevention by playing music in residence halls on Oct. 27.
    Facilitating African Rehabilitation, a group dedicated to raising awareness of African issues, organized the annual event. The group recruited OU student musicians to perform for donations in residence hall lobbies and elevators.
    The group has played music in elevators four times in its history, FAR president Erin Weese said.
    “One of our former presidents actually came up with the idea,” Weese said.
“He was an RA who had a bunch of friends with instruments. He started by raising money for the group Invisible Children, but we’re donating to the OU chapter of FACE AIDS.”
FACE AIDS will donate the money to an organization that provides AIDS medication and education in Rwanda, Weese said.
    Facilitating African Rehabilitation had no problems recruiting musicians, Weese said.
    “We have two members that are musically talented,” she said.
    “One’s in civic orchestra, and one’s in a jazz group, so they ask their friends or people in their classes. [The people who play in the elevators] like playing music, and they like charity, so they’re generally really happy to do it.”
    Sophomore Alyssa McCollom said she enjoyed playing mandolin in the elevators because of people’s reactions.
    “Most people have enjoyed [our music], and they were super excited about it,” McCollom said.
    “They get even more excited when we play a song they know. Some people start singing along with you, which is interesting.”
    Most people like having music in the elevators, Weese said.
    “Most of them think it’s kind of a nifty idea, but I think some are bothered by the fact that we’re taking up space in the elevator.”
    Residents of the halls said they liked the fundraiser’s concept.
    “I think it’s really cool they’re able to raise money in such an interesting way,” freshman Christopher Sharkey said.
    “I’ve never seen anyone do this before.”
    The group often had trouble explaining why they were fundraising, McCollom said.
    “I think we should have had signs in the elevator because people did get confused,” she said.
    “The ones who gave money, we definitely made sure we told them where it was going, though.”
    The lack of information made some people uncomfortable, Sharkey said.
    “The reason I haven’t donated is partially because I don’t know too much about what the money is for,” he said.
    “I know it’s for AIDS, but I’m not sure what they’re doing with the money, and I’m not comfortable with that.”
    Despite the occasional lack of understanding, the group raised approximately $400, but they hope to accomplish much more, Weese said.
    “We want to work toward changing the misconceptions that a lot of people have about Africa,” Weese said.
    “We want them to know that Africa is not just a poverty-stricken place, but we want people to know there’s good things happening in Africa. We know our contributions aren’t going to change Africa completely, but we still want to help and give.”

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