‘Where’s Waldo?’ game raises charity for Haitian school children
Published: Monday, May 6, 2013
Updated: Monday, May 6, 2013 23:05
Shouts of “I found you!” echoed through campus last week as members of Students for Haiti dressed in red and white striped shirts, glasses and hats were spotted around campus.
Throughout the week, members of Students for Haiti dressed as Waldo and tweeted clues to help participants find them and donate to the club. Donations went toward Little Footprints, Big Steps—an NGO in Haiti that provides vulnerable children with basic care and supports families.
The idea started out as a joke, sophomore president Jaewoong Yoo said, but all the members agreed the nostalgic children’s book character would make an interesting fundraiser.
Junior and member of Student’s for Haiti, Eric Leighton, likes that the group takes a more active approach than typical fundraisers.
“It’s like extreme canning—I find a place and people find me,” Leighton said. “It’s like the opposite effect. It’s more exciting than standing outside NDB with a can.”
Yoo said their initial goal was to raise $100—a goal they surpassed by the second day. The club raised $325 in total.
“We already met our initial expectations—anything greater than that is just really exciting for us,” Yoo said.
While the fundraiser was a public event, most participants came from Greek organizations. As Greek liaison to the club, sophomore Justin Swan said that while the event was not exclusively for Greek organizations, he hoped that their involvement would spread awareness to a wide range of students.
Junior president Alyssa Detreux hoped the event would inspire students to find out more about what they can do to help.
“Little Footprints, Big Steps needs sponsors, and you’re actually impacting people’s lives, so our initiative is really personal,” Detreux said. “It gives you a better connection to get involved with people on the ground.”
Although many students were aware of Waldo’s presence, others—both students and Newark residents—were confused by him and expressed curiosity. Those who were taken off guard were the most interesting to Yoo.
“There’s people walking with their phone up to them [Waldo] pretending to be talking, but they’re taking photos,” Yoo said. “There’s a whole population of students and people from Newark just going up to Waldo. Just seeing that kind of response from our community is great for the publicity, and it’s just really fun.”
As one of the costumed volunteers, Leighton said he liked seeing all of the snapshots of him dressed as the 90s character. He recalled how some people tried to be sneaky when taking his photo.
“I was sitting on a bench, and there was shrubbery behind me, and some guy hopped out of the bush to get a picture with me,” Leighton said. “I was surprised because I didn’t know he was there.”
The Waldo characters could visit whichever buildings they liked, so long as they remained on campus. Usually they would go to key locations like Morris Library or Memorial Hall, but the decision was up to Waldo.
Leighton said he likes the music department buildings but never gets to travel there, so he decided to make that his Waldo location.
Despite the changing locations, the Waldo volunteers agreed that people usually found them within a few minutes.
At the beginning of the week, the twitter page @StUDentforHaiti was used just by the club’s members. Yet by Friday, more than 100 new members joined (Can’t CONF b/c I don’t have a twitter, but there are 107 followers so very possible). Leighton said he hopes the new twitter followers will join the club next year and expand the group as a whole.
Detreux, another Waldo volunteer, said her favorite moment happened when she was stopped, not because she was dressed as Waldo, but because she was holding the Haitian flag. A man from Port-Au-Prince stopped to talk to Detreux.
“A guy was driving down Main Street and actually got out and stopped just because he saw the flag,” Detreux said. “He was excited to hear that we were working down there.”
Though the fundraiser did not really solely on the costume to spark people’s interest, it certainly helped.
“I was just sitting and then as soon as I threw the shirt on and the glasses people were like, ‘Waldo, there you are,’ and brought money over,” Swan said.