By Elie Kern
Stationed outside of Stamp Student Union on Valentine’s Day morning, sophomore public policy and communications major Atara Kahn could be heard asking two questions that are hard to say no to: “Who wants to save a child’s heart?” and “Who wants a donut?”
The first question was referring to the Israeli-based, non-profit organization with the mission of improving the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children in developing countries. According to its website, the organization’s goal is to “improve the health and welfare of all children, regardless of the child’s religion, gender or nationality.”
The donuts at the table were being sold as part of a fundraiser for the organization from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., with rotating volunteers representing Save a Child’s Heart. The materials were provided by Hasbara, an Israeli advocacy organization that often teams with Israeli organizations to promote them and portray Israel in a positive light.
Kahn noticed that Save a Child’s Heart was on the list of potential organizations on Hasbara’s website and pitched the idea of combining similar themes for the fundraiser.
“With Valentine’s Day happening, and the [Save a Child’s Heart] campaign of ‘give your heart out’, I thought it would be a cute idea,” Kahn said.
Founded in 1995, Save a Child’s Heart began as one cardiologist’s dream. Dr. Amram “Ami” Cohen emigrated to Israel from America in 1992, and he was working at Wolfson Medical Center when he was contacted by an Ethiopian doctor who needed help with two children in desperate need of heart surgery, according to the website.
Cohen died in a tragic accident while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2001, but his legacy and impact live on. To date, Save a Child’s Heart has saved the lives of more than 5,100 children from 62 countries.
For some of the volunteers, like sophomore information science major Mollie Flamholz, Save a Child’s Heart represents more than just a righteous cause. She took a gap year in Israel after graduating high school and volunteered at the organization for several months where she met some of the nurses and children involved. Flamholz said she felt a personal connection to the organization, and she left wanting to remain involved.
In the fall of 2018, Save a Child’s Heart officially became a fundraising club on campus. Flamholz founded the group with junior psychology major Nava Winton, senior biology major Mia Lang and senior sociology major Ariel Baron.
“I really wanted to help raise money for the organization,” Flamholz said. “It existed as a club at several other colleges, so we thought it was important that we brought it to Maryland.”
Despite being outside in the cold weather, many of the volunteers had smiles on their faces as they tabled the fundraiser. Flamholz said she felt a sense of accomplishment knowing that she was helping to raise money that would go directly to those surgeries.
In its short time at this university, Save a Child’s Heart has held several successful fundraisers. With plans to keep them as annual events, this past year included a “spin your heart out” spin class and a 5K race through campus. The club hopes that its next fundraiser will come in the form of a beer pong tournament taking place in March.