Carolina For The Kids, the largest student-run philanthropic organization in North Carolina, has set the goal to raise $60,000 in a 24-hour period on Feb. 11.
“We have all sorts of events planned, starting with the UNC basketball game, where we will be panning money there,” said Jane Henriques, the CFTK Events Coordinator. “We have day-long events and benefits throughout Feb. 12.”
Members of CFTK help UNC Children’s Hospitals in many ways, including volunteering at pediatric playrooms and serving weekly meals for parents staying extended periods at the hospital.
“Our mission is to serve patients and their families at UNC Children’s Hospital through emotional, medical, and financial support,” said Marissa Devine, the CFTK Public Relations chairperson. “Sometimes when you’re in the midst of taking care of your child and making sure they have everything they need, you kind of forget about yourself. So, one hot meal can make a world of difference.”
CFTK has also established a yearly grant program which is intended to financially aid patients and families.
“If there is someone who is struggling because of medical burdens to pay the bills, such as a gas bill or an electric bill, or if they’re unable to find a place because they all of a sudden had to come to the hospital and didn’t have time to find a hotel, that fund is there to help them and they don’t have to worry about paying for it,” said Bryant Gilchrist, CFTK executive director.
Member of the executive board help decide which research and clinical grants to fund. Devine said last year CFTK funded a project that gave diabetic patients a stuffed bear designed to teach children how to manage Type 1 diabetes.
Devine said the biggest event CFTK plans is the UNC Dance Marathon, in which participants dance non-stop for 24 hours.
“My favorite part of the marathon is family hour, when families come up on stage and tell their stories about what Carolina For The Kids does for their families,” Devine said. “It’s really inspirational.”
Despite its continued success, Gilchrist emphasized the importance of challenging members of CFTK to come up with new ideas for the organization.
“If we’re not trying to push the needle to keep things fresh and new, you’re never going to have those moments where you are growing,” Gilchrist said. “That’s one thing I’ve been a strong advocate for with the board — challenging them to take their ideas and run with them rather than to perpetuate what we’ve done in the past and hope they continue to be successful.”
In addition to hosting the annual UNC Dance Marathon, CFTK prepares for various events that target a wider audience. On Feb. 8, CFTK will host their 17th annual Benefit Reception at the Carolina Inn, which will feature a silent auction.
“It’s something we view as the Dance Marathon for adults,” Gilchrist said. “It’s a big event we throw where we get a bunch of auctioned items in a silent auction. We get hospital members, parents and community members to take part in our organization.”
Henriques said that this year’s Benefit Reception will offer tickets to Disney World, basketballs autographed by the UNC men’s basketball team, and a puppy.
One event in the works is a pajama party at UNC Hospitals.
“We are figuring out how to better connect with the hospitals,” Gilchrist said. “We are trying to get a joint event with the hospital where we host a dance pajama party for them. The reason we are supporting the kids is because they are going through a hard time, and it can be hard to get out of the hospital. So, we are planning something where we can go to them, and we are planning for that to be in April.”
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