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Dancing for a difference

Sunset High School students raise money for war-torn African region
by: Ray Pitz, Anna Reilly and Chris Rose stand in front of posters placed inside Sunset High School for last Friday night’s “Dance for Darfur.” The school’s Associated Student Body already has raised $5,000 to benefit CARE, which provides food, clothing and shelter for refugees in the war-torn region of Sudan.

On Friday evening, Sunset High School leadership class students busied themselves by placing black butcher-block paper on the wall in the cafeteria/commons area.

From there, they carefully placed cutouts of the African landscape and installed black lights.

All this for 'Dance for Darfur,' a fund-raising event to raise money for that war-torn portion of Sudan.

'A lot of people had fun and a lot of people were glad they could do something,' Chris Rose, a senior and Associated Student Body vice president, said Monday.

So far, students have collected $5,000.

Last year, Sunset's leadership class hosted a charity winter formal - the Sunset Snow Ball - with money benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

'This year we wanted to do another Snow Ball but we wanted a different cause so we changed the name,' said Anna Reilly, a junior and ASB volunteer coordinator.

In the summer of 2005, Madison Parker, a Sunset ASB secretary, traveled to Africa where she met a man involved with humanitarian work.

'He came to our class and he spoke about just what was going on in Uganda and Darfur,' said Reilly. 'It really impacted our class. People were like crying.'

Afraid that any money benefiting Uganda might not make it into the right hands due to the current political climate in that country, the students opted to help those in Darfur.

Located in the Darfur region of western Sudan, armed conflict there has resulted in 400,000 deaths, according to the Coalition for International Justice.

Students said Darfur also has received recent media attention not the least being a visit by actor George Clooney and his father.

In addition, MySpace recently hosted a benefit called 'Rock for Darfur.'

To raise awareness for the fund-raising event, Sunset High School organizations, including the Amnesty International Club, Young Conservatives, Young Democrats, Key Club and Model U.N., all hosted booths last week calling attention to the problems in Darfur.

'(The Amnesty Club) had this campaign, 'Give up your lunch money for Darfur,' ' said Reilly.

Reilly and Rose said support hasn't come only from students.

'We're also getting a lot of support from the teachers and administration for what we're doing,' said Rose.

Ideally, the students said they'd like to collect as much as $8,000.

'We're hoping, but it's not really a set number,' said Reilly.

The students had 1,000 T-shirts, designed by Kalvin Loeffler, printed up for the dance and are selling them for $10 each. Of that amount, $8 will go directly to CARE to benefit the relief organization's Sudan Project.

The money in turn will be used for food, shelter and clothing for refugees, said Reilly. Also, the money could benefit finding clean drinking water for refugees along with helping to ensure the protection of women in that region.

'It's really cool just how all of this has come together,' Reilly said of the student volunteers who have helped out.

Rose summed it up another way: 'It's a great feeling to know you're making a difference.'