Up ‘til Dawn to honor letter-writers

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Mercer's chapter of Up 'til Dawn will reward those who participated in the letter writing campaign this fall with a carnival on April 8 in the Connell Student Center.

Up ‘til Dawn will be hosting Carnival for a Cure on April 8, 2011, both inside and outside the Connell Student Center. Up ‘til Dawn is Mercer’s student-led, student-run, campus-wide philanthropy that benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The carnival is the philanthropy’s spring finale event that seeks to recognize both student participation and to spread awareness for the cause.

Every fall Up ‘til Dawn hosts its main fundraising event, the Letter Writing Campaign. Mercer students are invited to write letters encouraging donations for St. Jude. The 2010 fall semester Letter Writing Campaign took place on Nov. 15 from 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. in Bear Rock Café.

Students were encouraged to bring addresses of friends and family to send written letters asking the individuals to support the children’s hospital with either monetary donations or awareness, said Co-Executive Director Nikki Lunceford.

Each participant is encouraged to write 50 letters for the cause. While that may seem like a lot, the organization’s Facebook page lists what these letters can accomplish for St. Jude.

Only 35 letters cover the cost of 20 platelet count tests, 50 letters cover the cost of three hours of physical therapy and 100 letters cover the cost of one full day of outpatient care.

With the total estimated daily cost to run the hospital at $1.5 million, St. Jude needs as many letters as possible. Last fall students exceeded expectations by writing 4,335 letters.
While all the letters support St. Jude in some way, students will not know how much money this year’s efforts were able to raise for the charity until the spring finale event in
April.

Although Carnival for a Cure will serve as a time to announce the total profits raised, that is not the only reason Up ‘til Dawn hosts it.

“The carnival is for awareness and reward. It is an event for the students’ work in the fall. We are trying to encourage people who wrote letters by giving them an incentive to write again,” Lunceford said.

But do not worry; students did not have to participate in the Letter Writing Campaign to attend the spring carnival.

“We are hoping a lot of people will be at the finale so that we can increase our student participation in the fall by making more students aware of the philanthropy now,” Lunceford said.

There will be carnival-themed food, like cotton candy and popcorn, and games.

“We hopefully will have a craft table set up so that students can make crafts for some of the patients at St. Jude,” Lunceford said.

Students who wrote the designated amount of letters will also receive their T-shirts at the carnival, but the T-shirt is just an added prize for participants.

The true prize is knowing that every letter written has helped a child in some way. “Even if the individual doesn’t donate they can still be a referral for someone else and can help save someone’s life,” Lunceford said.

“St. Jude is such a good cause because any child who needs special treatment gets their treatment for free, no matter their financial background. It is a really hopeful environment and it is a great research hospital,” Lunceford said.

“What we need to realize is that because it is cancer it can affect all of us, and St. Jude is really working to make a difference for no profit. They are truly dedicated to eradicating childhood cancers,” Lunceford said.

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