“Love and Giving Back” fundraiser for homeless youth

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Bellevue College’s Peer-to-Peer program aims to recruit student volunteers to assist new students during events such as helping BC students during the first week of every quarter and holding fundraisers for clubs at BC or charities outside of the college community.

On Wednesday, Feb. 11,  Peer-to-Peer coordinator Nina Nesterenko and other student volunteers from the Campus Activities Board and the Black Student Union organized “Love and Giving Back Photo Booth,” a fundraising event for Birthday Dreams, a nonprofit organization that hosts parties for homeless children. The photo booth was held in the C building in front of the café and students were asked to donate $2 to raise money for the charity to support their work.

To tie in with the Valentine’s Day theme, some student volunteers were dressed in Cupid costumes and handed out pink heart-shaped cookies. The backdrop of the photo booth was decorated with flowers and there were hearts hanging from the ceiling.

The Director of Operations for Birthday Dreams, Shannon Abbey, had a small information booth about the organization and pictures of their past work, such as photos of birthday parties they have hosted for children in the past.

Nesterenko hopes to gain more volunteers for Peer-to-Peer and to promote other campus programs and help BC students give back to the Bellevue community. According to Nesterenko, Peer-to-Peer partnered with Birthday Dreams because she “wanted to help not only our students and community, but to also spread our students to the community.”

The event brought many BC students out to participate. The Ambassador for the Office of International Education and Global Initiatives Julia Denysova volunteered in the event. She believes that events like the photo booth are a great way to participate in the BC community while helping others in need.

“It’s a good opportunity to help other students and people and make friends and see new faces,” Denysova said, “It’s a good way to make connections with other programs and find new places to volunteer.”

Denysova said Peer-to-Peer is beneficial to the BC community and also explained it is one of the biggest social programs on campus.

“I really like it because they really have a lot of great events and there are a lot of opportunities for volunteers. It’s really nice to be a part of one big project.”
Birthday Dreams is an organization located in Renton that was established in 2009. It is currently the only nonprofit organization that provides and celebrates birthday parties for children.

According to the organization’s website www.birthdaydreams.org, “Birthday Dreams was founded on the simple principle that children must have this sense of hope, encouragement and belief that there are people who care so that they can weather the storms of their circumstances.” Currently, the organization has provided 2,839 birthday celebrations and they seek volunteers and donations from the community. On their website, they give multiple ways to help, such as donating a Birthday-in-a-Box, which contains everything needed to throw a birthday party for a child from cake to streamers, napkins and gifts.

The organization accepts monetary donations and volunteers can help by attending a party or even baking a cake for a child.

From this event, Peer-to-Peer raised $350 and Nesterenko plans on going on a “shopping trip with my volunteer team to buy toys and birthday decorations to donate to Birthday Dreams.” Peer-to-Peer hosts a variety of events on campus such as Volunteer Appreciation Day and ice cream socials. They have an office in the C building where they provide mentoring and recruit volunteers.