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UNICEF Club Volunteers Think Global and Act Local

April 19, 2021

University of Iowa UNICEF Club members found a way to raise money to help end the pandemic and lift the spirits of their community at the same time. 

More than 25 percent of all people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but many countries have yet to administer a single vaccine dose. As part of the Global COVAX Facility, UNICEF is coordinating the equitable distribution of 2 billion vaccine doses to more than 180 countries this year in what will be largest, fastest and most ambitious vaccination program ever.

Our supporters play a vital part in enabling UNICEF to carry out this historic roll-out.

A virtual campus fundraiser to help stop the pandemic ended up reaching lonely, isolated community members 

Supporters like Lydia and Thomas and their fellow UNICEF Club members at the University of Iowa, who started a virtual fundraiser called “United in the Cloud.” What began as an idea to engage the school community with an online event helped hundreds of people experiencing loneliness and isolation in Iowa City, all while raising funds to support UNICEF’s efforts in the COVAX COVID-19 vaccine roll-out around the world.

Club members aimed to recreate “fun on-campus UNICEF events virtually for their school community,” says Lydia, a sophomore biomedical sciences major. What they didn’t expect was that staging a virtual event would give them a much bigger platform and allow them to “let members of the wider Iowa City community participate, especially those most vulnerable, like seniors in retirement homes."

Student musicians from Iowa City West High School's Cadenza Club (above and below) performed a series of concerts via Zoom, engaging local community members while collecting donations to support UNICEF's work to distribute lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines around the world. The February 2021 concert series was organized by UNICEF Club members at the University of Iowa. 

They partnered with classical music students from the Iowa City West High School Cadenza Club, who hadn’t been able to perform due to coronavirus restrictions, and were excited to share their talents with the local community on Zoom. This idea came, as Thomas, a sophomore microbiology major, recalls, because “so many of my friends and I were turning to music to cope with the pandemic.”  The University of Iowa UNICEF Club found a way to bring the joy of live performance back into people’s lives.

A week of mini-concerts raised funds to support the equitable delivery of COVID-19 vaccines around the world

Iowa City UNICEF Club members and musicians performed four to five classical pieces by Bach, Dvorak, and others every day for a whole week. “We had people tuning in for a mini-concert, a little escape from reality every day,” Thomas says. "At the same time, we wanted to highlight what UNICEF was doing globally to help the most vulnerable and end the pandemic. That was what inspired focusing our fundraiser on UNICEF’s COVID relief while providing some emotional relief to populations having a hard time,” Lydia adds.

Their efforts have not gone unnoticed in their community and around the world. “If anyone out there wants to help, just go for it. Even if you do something small, you have no idea how great the impact can and will be,” says Thomas.

Learn more about what UNICEF is doing to help end the pandemic and how you can help here.

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Top photo: UNICEF staff cheering at Juba International Airport on March 25, 2021 after the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines in South Sudan through the COVAX Facility. UNICEF is playing a key role in the equitable global delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, leading on procurement and supply for COVAX. © UNICEF/UN0432952/Solomon