Bead bracelets and bookmarks—these objects may bear minimal significance to many children but are incredibly important to those who have little in the way of personal possessions; that’s why Case Western Reserve University DCI (Distressed Children and Infants International) held a Bracelets for Service event this past Friday, Oct. 5 in the Thwing Center.
At the event, participants prepared bracelets, cards and bookmarks for underprivileged children in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Nicaragua. At the end of the semester, DCI will be donating all the crafts to the children through the international organization.
In addition to the fact that these items are easy for students to both physically make and donate, they are also objects which can brighten a child’s day and serve as a reminder that someone is thinking of them. The program is successful because such an easy action can leave a powerful impact on a child.
“DCI’s mission is to protect the rights of children, stop child labor and help families lift themselves out of poverty through education, healthcare, vision care and income generating opportunities,” its mission statement reads. “DCI envisions a society where underprivileged children have equal access to opportunities for a secure and prosperous life.”
Additionally, the group seeks to connect American youth with those in other countries and to bring awareness to the challenges children face worldwide.
The first DCI project at CWRU kicked off in 2016, the same year the club’s chapter was founded. The goal of the first event was, similarly to the Oct. 5 drive, to interact with the community and spread awareness of the global problems children face. This is also the greater mission of CWRU Distressed Children and Infants.
The inaugural 2016 event was successful in this aspect as well because as many as 100 bracelets and bookmarks each were made, only limited by the number of supplies. Fourth-year Cindy Chen, DCI Vice President, estimated that about 70 people attended throughout the event.
Students enrolled in Mathematics 121 and 122, Physics 115 and Statistics 201 all received extra credit for participating in the drive. Chen estimated that about half of the attendants came for the extra credit.
“I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” she said about students’ reason for turnout, “because coming here might allow them to learn more about the club.”
Earle Luck, Worcester R. and Cornelia B. Warner Professor of Astronomy, said he does not administer extra credit for attending events on campus because he feels students will go to an event if they think it will be beneficial to them. He said other professors offer extra credit for attending events because they “want to make sure that a certain level of participation [outside the classroom] is ensured.”
Fourth-year student Grace Sze, DCI President, said, “I feel like [attending the event for extra credit] would be an issue, but a lot of [participants] signed up to be in the club while they were here and come to our general body (GB) meetings too.”
The organization estimated that 30 people signed up to attend the club’s GB. At their GBs, the group talks about current events and also makes bookmarks. Chen explained that the club is “planning to not have many GBs [this year], and instead of the GBs, DCI will be doing service events so that members can interact with each other more.”
Her experience is that students enjoy doing service events more than engaging in discussion groups. In the future, DCI wants to continue hosting more service events and plans on making little, stuffed animals as another donation to the children. They are also throwing fundraising events to raise money for another goal, which is to fund the Blindness Prevention Program.
Through the Blindness Prevention Program, DCI provides cataract and refractive error treatment and eye screenings in impoverished areas.
According to Chen, “A lot of the slums [DCI donates to] don’t have healthcare, so this international club is founded to help them out.”
Unfortunately, students can not visit the locations at which the trinkets are distributed. Regardless, DCI officers hope to send volunteers to these countries as the group’s presence at CWRU expands so they can see the impact they are making first hand. For now, the club’s founder sends them on-site photos of the locations where their crafts are making a difference.
For those who want to help in making that difference in children’s lives, DCI is hosting a Sweets Bake Sale from Oct. 29 through 31 in Nord Hall and a Dine and Donate event on Nov. 9 in the Thwing Center, where students can try foods not offered on campus. Additionally, those who sign up for their newsletter will be informed about upcoming events.