***This week, I am going to take the time to blog about a charity that is very important to me. This is not directly related to UB***
My first year at UB, I was a part of Leadership House, a living and learning community for thirty lucky freshman. As part of the requirements for being in the program, we had a mandatory 25 community service hours to complete every semester. One of the girls who lived across from me, Mary Beth (soon to be sophomore roommate and close friend) had family that was involved in an organization that was located in Buffalo. Thus, I and many others were introduced to Let them LOL. Let them LOL works to raise money to build wells in Sierra Leone in order to provide fresh water to the communities over there. After volunteering a few times, we got to participate in their 3rd Annual Water Gala and it was truly an amazing experience. Flash forward two years, and this past weekend I volunteered for the 5th Annual Water Gala.
Looking back at the first year, there have been so many changes to the gala: bigger venue, supporting an orphanage, and more volunteers to name a few. Everyone who is a part of LOL are volunteers, and each year I have seen more passion to making every aspect better. The student volunteers are known as Water Ninjas led by Jason and Jessica Papas during the Gala. This year, three years of Leadership House represented as Water Ninjas, no longer trying to fulfill a requirement.
The three years of LH
All of us got to the venue, located in downtown Buffalo, at 8:30 AM to start setting up for this year;s gala. There were two very prominent parts of the decorations that really stuck out to me. The first was the lego wall that two Children had come up with and made representing the 4000 children that die every day from lack of water. Every single lego piece was donated along with another donation to a well. In the picture above you can see part of the lego wall, but this picture captures it better:
The second part that I felt was very inspiring was the experience that we built that guests would walk through when they first entered the gala. I can’t describe in words how beautiful it was and can show you through this picture:
After many hours of working on the set-up, all the volunteers helping out at the gala changed and learned our positions for the night. There are many different ways in which someone can donate money to the organization throughout the night. First, there are the three different auctions: Chinese Auction, Silent Auction, and the Live Auction. Second, you could purchase special LOL merchandise (changes every year) and items made in Sierra Leone. Third, there are donation slips on the tables for attendees to donate during dinner. Throughout the night, the ninjas are very busy working the auctions and the merchandise table, but we do get a break to see the presentation during the dinner.
The presentation told the story of LOL through videos of homages from the Board members and footage from the trips made to Sierra Leone every three months. One quote that stuck out was ” We empower those experiencing an unjust suffering by providing them with basic resources a community here with a community there”. LOL doesn’t just build wells for the communities, but LOL actively checks up on each community during each trip, provides maintenance for the wells, and opened a children’s home for orphans. It is amazing to see how far LOL has come from starting out with just selling ringtones of one of the co-founder’s laugh to raise money.
I am grateful becoming a part of Leadership House , because I got to become a part of such a wonderful organization. I have formed close relationships with not only other students, but the board members of LOL as well. My goal one day is to go on one of the trips to Sierra Leone. My advice for anyone who wants to come to UB is to get involved with something you are passionate about. Not everything has to be something on campus, but could be in the community as well .
For more information about Let them LOL visit their website here: http://ltlol.com/