Community, Features

“So You Think BU Can Dance” brings philanthropy to center stage

A student group competes during the “So You Think BU Can Dance” competition Saturday evening. PHOTO BY JOHNNY LIU/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
A student group competes during the “So You Think BU Can Dance” competition Saturday evening. PHOTO BY JOHNNY LIU/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Raising money for the Half the Sky Foundation, a nonprofit founded in Beijing that raises funds to help Chinese orphans receive the medical care and services they require to have a healthy childhood, Boston University China Care Fund held “So You Think BU Can Dance,” a competition fundraiser, Saturday night.

BUCCF is one of more than 60 student-run China Care clubs in the United States and Canada. The club donates money to different programs under Half the Sky, and its members also work with adopted children in the Boston area, teaching weekly Mandarin classes to teach them about Chinese culture. BUCCF also holds dumpling playgroups, where members teach Chinese and information about Chinese culture to young children through activities and games.

Jessica Li, a senior in the School of Education and the president of BUCCF, said the club works hard to raise money for many different sections of Half the Sky.

“Right now, we are sponsoring another program which is called the Baby Sister Infant Nurture Program,” she said. “For $900 per year we are able to support one orphan, and we donated over $3,000 last summer to support three orphans. We’re currently supporting them. They’re all in state-run welfare institutes and are being taken care of.”

“So You Think BU Can Dance” was free, but donations were encouraged. The group held a successful raffle, with prizes from donors such as OTTO Pizza and Raising Cane’s to entice people to donate. BUCCF made sure to display facts about their cause at all angles, with a poster board full of information right by the raffle, as well as more information in the brochures that were handed out to all audience members.

When asked about the competitive aspect of the fundraiser, Cherie Chan, a junior in the College of Communication and the creative chair of BUCCF, said they were trying to make the show interactive to encourage people to attend.

“The idea was to get all people involved and make them want to come to the fundraiser,” she said. “We want the audience to enjoy the show and in the process simultaneously learn more about our cause and raise awareness.”

The event showed off the talents of seven BU dance groups of all genres, from Irish step dancing to traditional Latin-American dance to freestyle hip-hop. By presenting various types of talent and performance, BUCCF drew a large crowd to support the cause. The show was set up like a televised dance competition, with student emcees guiding it and a voting process at the end. The mood of the event was lighthearted with a good turnout in the crowd, everyone happy to be there to support their fellow students and dancers as well as Half the Sky.

In between performances, BUCCF showed videos of children helped by Half the Sky, celebrating the progress made over the last decade. The videos were touching and helped put faces to those supported by the foundation. The videos released impressive facts, sharing that Half the Sky has placed more than 400 children in foster care and has helped fund more than 450 surgeries for children in need.

At the end of the night, dance group Bulletproof Funk took second place and Fusion won the ultimate first place prize, but the real winner of the night was the Half the Sky Foundation. The fundraiser ended with $1,259 in donations and an audience full of people educated on BUCCF’s mission statement and great cause. The event was well crafted and fun for all involved, benefiting a wonderful organization.

Elisabeth McNeill, a senior in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the fundraising co-coordinator of BUCCF, said she loves seeing the direct impact Half the Sky has on the lives of the children.

“I fell in love with the cause because it’s so real and genuine,” she said. “Sometimes we raise funds for specific surgeries, so we’ll see pictures of the children before the surgery and after. In the after pictures they’re smiling, and it’s really awesome to be able to see how our work creates a direct positive impact for the kids.”

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