Santa Barbara Hillel hosted its annual charity auction to raise money for Save a Child’s Heart, an Israel-based project that provides heart surgeries for children from third world countries. The event, which took place on Tuesday, Feb. 13, was a night filled with philanthropy, community, and activism.
According to the SACH website, the organization was founded in 1995 at the Wolfson Medical Center in Israel as an effort to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children in developing countries regardless of the child’s nationality, race, religion, gender, or financial situation. Presently, SACH has saved the lives of more than 4,400 children from numerous countries and has trained over 100 medical team members from those countries.
Santa Barbara Hillel has annually hosted this charity auction in honor of SACH since 2013, when a student leader at Hillel became passionate about the project. Every year since then, the benefit has garnered more attendees, thus raising more money for the organization while fostering a stronger Santa Barbara community. “It has become one of the core programs that we do at Hillel,” said Hannah Sherman, director of student life at Santa Barbara Hillel, in an interview with The Bottom Line.
Several UCSB organizations such as Global Medical Brigades, Gauchos For Israel, Greek Life Office, and UCSB Challah for Hunger co-sponsored the event. Representatives from the Gift of Life Marrow Registry, an international bone marrow and blood stem cell registry, were also present.
The benefit started off with a speech from one of the organizers of the event, Michelle May, a fourth year biology major, and Aaron Hendizadeh, a third year history major. Both are also Hillel board leaders. They talked about the positive impact Hillel had on their lives throughout their college careers and the beneficial services SACH provided.
After a heartwarming video that showcased success stories from children who SACH helped, the bidding began. Hillel auctioned off several different prizes such as a Trader Joe’s gift basket and a bluetooth speaker. Students could win goodies like gift cards to McConnell’s Ice Cream and Cat Therapy. All of the proceeds went to SACH.
Unlike last year, there were no performances at the event, but May said she felt that the timing was perfect as most people tend to lose motivation the longer an event lasts. “I’m a bio major so I’m really interested in medical sciences and helping children who are in need and who have no control over their situations in impoverished environments is really incredible,” said May when she was asked why she wanted to host SACH this year.
“It’s about disregarding political differences. They’re humans and we’re humans and we need to take care of each other,” May said. “It’s also good to see a little bit of discussion of things going on in Israel because I don’t see a lot of American companies doing similar things.”
Sherman also said that some participants in Santa Barbara Hillel’s Birthright trips can visit a SACH clinic in Israel. “It’s a great way for students to see where our money goes to in Israel,” Sherman said.
By the end of the night, Hillel raised over $2,900 for SACH. “It was really great. This is my third year in a row coming and I always look forward to the event…it’s for a really amazing cause,” said Alexandra Taleisnik, fourth year communications major and former president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi.