Some of the most imaginative community fundraising for Massachusetts General Hospital begins with great ideas from high school and college students.
Community Fundraising: Formed by Anthony Federico and some college classmates, Massachusetts Cares for Cancer held a "No Shave November" fundraiser for Mass General.
Formed by Anthony Federico and some college classmates, Massachusetts Cares for Cancer held a “No Shave November” community fundraising event for Mass General.

Some of the most imaginative community fundraising for Massachusetts General Hospital begins with ideas from high school and college students.

These young fundraisers provide the creative spark for fun, interactive events to raise awareness and money for research and treatment efforts. Dances, group exercise classes and recycling drives are just a few of the ways that youth make an impact with community fundraising. Some even go to the extent of growing out their facial hair to raise awareness.

Anthony Federico, 21, and a group of classmates at the University of Massachusetts Amherst launched a new student organization that is directing all its funds to the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Fund at MassGeneral Hospital for Children.

No Shave November

In November, Massachusetts Cares About Cancer teamed up with other student organizations for a “No Shave November” fundraiser. The idea is if you grow a beard, your friends agree to donate to the cause.

Students updated progress on Facebook, Anthony says, directing more attention to the Mass General giving website.

“I am so grateful for support and dedication of these young people who are committed to our kids.”

“We wish that the phrase, ‘kids with cancer,’ did not exist,” says Howard Weinstein, MD, chief of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology. “I am so grateful for support and dedication of these young people who are committed to our kids.”

Whether the contributions are large or small, donors are making a difference. In 2013, more than 200 groups or individuals organized events that raised funds for Mass General research and programs. Through such community fundraising events, donors contributed more than $2 million last year, double the amount raised just two years before.

Anthony, a biochemistry major, wasn’t motivated by a personal experience, but rather his understanding that pediatric cancer research is in large part supported by philanthropy “There’s really no one funding it besides [grassroots] fundraisers,” he says.

Get People Moving

For Michael Mancino, 18, raising funds for type 1 diabetes research began with the classic first effort, the school bake sale, and progressed into larger community fundraising events that have raised as much as $50,000. At 8, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. By the time Michael was a high school junior, he had organized a student club to educate people about the disease and raise funds for the Faustman Lab.

Community Fundraising: For his community fundraising effort on behalf of Mass General, Elisha Galler (second from left), has the support of family members including from left, his grandmother Joan Sohn; his younger brother, Elan Galler; and his mother, Julie Galler.
For his community fundraising effort, Elisha Galler (second from left), has the support of, from left, his grandmother Joan Sohn; his younger brother, Elan Galler; and his mother, Julie Galler.

The lab is where Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, director of the Immunobiology Laboratory at Mass General, focuses on discovering and developing new treatments for type 1 diabetes.

Michael’s Kids for a Cure has organized several events, including a summer gala that raised $25,000 and a spin-a-thon at several local gyms, something that was fun and attracted people who might not attend a formal dance. Around 70 people signed up for spinning sessions, raising about $5,000.

“Our community fundraisers like Michael and his MHS Kids for the Cure group work so hard to raise money and awareness for this research,” says Dr. Faustman. “We very literally would not be able to advance our type 1 diabetes clinical trial without this type of help,”

Community Fundraising and Colors

Elisha Galler was 17 when he had an idea: What if everyone, for at least one day, thought about juvenile epilepsy? Inspired by his younger brother, who had been diagnosed with the seizure disorder, Elisha spent months organizing what would become the Purple Day for Epilepsy, based on an initiative of the Anita Kaufmann Foundation, intended to raise international awareness of epilepsy.

“It gets the name out there,” he says. “It gets the cause out there. The more money you can raise, the more money goes to the hospital.”

The Purple Day community fundraiser, held on April 22, 2013, used simple ribbons as a coordinated theme. Elisha had sent letters to government officials in the Boston region, securing permission from three towns. Local businesses contributed goods for sale.

It served as both his senior project and a community fundraising event for Mass General. Each of the hundreds of purple ribbons that Elisha and his volunteers tied to light poles and trees had information about epilepsy and a link to the community fundraising website.

Elisha had been motivated by watching his brother’s experiences. Diagnosed at 3, his brother found treatment at Mass General through Elizabeth Thiele, MD, PhD, director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Program. The fundraiser provided support for children undergoing epilepsy treatment at the hospital.

Awash in Purple

For one day, Elisha said, the towns were awash in purple and people were learning how to support children who have a seizure disorder. “It was really amazing,” he recalls.

Community Fundraising: Tying ribbons around trees was part of the Purple Day for Epilepsy's community fundraising for Mass General.
Tying ribbons around trees was part of the Purple Day for Epilepsy community fundraising event for Mass General.

Now a student in Israel, Elisha has continued his fundraising abroad. He organized a running team for the 2014 Jerusalem Marathon, recruiting about 30 participants, and is doing the same for the 2015 event, which will be held March 13. He anticipates about 150 people will represent his family’s epilepsy foundation, Home Time Cure, and direct funds through their effort to Mass General. Everyone will wear a purple running shirt, he says, raising the visibility of the funding effort.

“It gets the name out there,” he says of his community fundraising. “It gets the cause out there. The more money you can raise, the more money goes to the hospital.”

Do you have an idea for community fundraising to support Mass General programs? Please contact us for more information to become a community fundraiser. People of any age can make a huge difference for Mass General.