by AMANDA SHEWARD
From Wednesday, Oct. 18 to Friday, Oct. 21, the UMW American Student Union, UMW Students for Justice in Palestine, UMW Radical Students’ Union and the UMW Muslim Student Association organized a bake sale to raise money for relief efforts in response to the ongoing violence in Gaza. In collaboration, the organizations held two bake sales in the Cedric Rucker University Center and another in front of Lee Hall. In total, the clubs raised over $1,500, and all the donations will be donated to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.
The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund’s mission is to provide free medical care and humanitarian aid to children. According to their website, the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund is currently the primary humanitarian organization in Palestine.
When asked about the event, Max Hiznay, a sophomore history major and founder of the UMW American Student Union, said, “Our coalition figured that a multiple-day bake sale would get more attention and success in fundraising.”
During the bake sale, the members of each organization baked cookies, brownies and Arab-American pastries like baklava.
Students spoke on the importance of the bake sale, as well as their reasoning behind organizing the event.
“It is important because Palestinian children are disproportionately impacted by this conflict and the apartheid regime,” said Hinzay about the fundraising event. “This bake sale is to raise awareness of the Palestinian perspective and to, of course, raise money for relief.”
On the topic of awareness, Kai Otero, a junior historic preservation major, highlighted the importance of creating a safe and productive space where students can have conversations regarding important topics.
“It is important to me that I see people at school spreading awareness about Gaza because it creates a safe environment for students to learn about the events happening in the world without the fear of getting judged for not already knowing anything about it,” said Otero. “It is also super cool to see my peers that are passionate about it using their voices and coming young activists.”
Speaking on the news about the Israel-Hamas war, Amirah Ahmed, a junior political science major and president of UMW Students for Justice in Palestine, commented on how students should approach the situation and their duty to be informed.
“It is absolutely, undeniably, crucial that students look at the news because of how hard it is to look at,” Ahmed said. “I would even go as far as to argue that it is every single one of our duties as college students that are privileged enough to be on a college campus to look at the worst of the news.”
On Wednesday, Oct. 18, the first day of the bake sale, there was also a candlelight vigil hosted on the University Center patio. The vigil aimed to both honor and mourn the civilian lives lost in Gaza. Attendees had the opportunity to give speeches that were the main part of the vigil. Candles were placed around the steps of the University Center’s main entrance alongside posters that reemphasized the goal of the vigil. Some of the statements observed read, “The world stands with Palestine!” and “End the violence.”
According to the Associated Press, approximately 2.3 million Palestinians live in Gaza. As of Nov. 7. The Palestinian death toll since the war began on Oct. 7 has surpassed 10,300, and 4,200 of those have been children.
“This cause is everything to me,” said Ahmed. “None of us are free until all of us are free, and that cannot happen unless all of us are taking action to stop this genocide and liberate Palestine.”