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  • GK USA

Filipino Youth Group Raises Funds for COVID Relief Efforts

GK Tampa, together with the University of Florida, Filipino Students Association (UFFSA), celebrated GK USA Bayan Natin (Our People) with two youth-centered events in the spring. Gawad Kalinga has been UFFSA’s primary philanthropy for several years. Last year, they started to dedicate a whole month to GK. “I, together with my chairs, Arianna Arcenas, Christian Chiong, Niko Bronto, and Ron Osorio, wanted to continue the success from last year, and bring more attention to philanthropic efforts,’’ said Hannah Famador, UFFSA Outgoing Vice President of External Affairs.

Originally, four events were planned: a spaghetti fundraiser, a dares night, a sports day, and a benefit concert. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to cancel some events and utilize online platforms. “We adapted to changing situations to keep our pamilya in the loop for GK Month,” Niko said.

In early March, they held a Spaghetti Fundraiser, where students enjoyed a simple Filipino-style spaghetti meal, with ensaymada and calamansi juice. “The spaghetti fundraiser is a fun tradition for UFFSA. We love being able to share our culture’s food with others, and for a good cause too,” Hannah added. Around 100 people attended, and about $500 was raised from this event.

In April, a virtual concert called GK Benefit Concert: Open Mic was held over Zoom, and about 50 people were on the call. Performers included the UFFSA general body members and friends of UF students. Some played guitar or piano, while others sang along to a karaoke version. They raised money using a spirit points system where people donated for their favorite performer. “I think the Zoom Concert went much better than we could have thought. COVID-19 definitely threw us off course, but we persevered and were able to stay dedicated to our cause to help those who need our help more than ever,” Arianna said.

In addition, UFFSA sold vintage T-shirt bundles at their annual spring cultural celebration, Barrio Fiesta, to raise money for GK. They also held a Dares Fundraiser, where board members completed dares like dyeing their hair and the ice bucket challenge. They promoted via Instagram stories, which allowed them to have fun during quarantine and bring the community together remotely.

UFFSA raised an impressive total of $1,713, which will be part of the matching campaign of the Barclay family. “Even though our month was cut short, we remained steadfast in our vision to provide hope for people in the Philippines, and we’re so grateful for everyone who contributed to GK this year,” Hannah said.

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