Campus community attends 'Take a Bite Out of Hate.'
Hunter Smiley, 12, enjoys cookies from around the world at Cal U's 'Take a Bite Out of Hate' fundraiser. Smiley and his classmates and members of Calvary Chapel Christian School's choir performed at the fundraiser for Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Fund for Victims of Terror.
Cookies and camaraderie highlighted a campus event on Feb. 26 to benefit the victims of last October’s Tree of Life Synagogue tragedy.
Proceeds from “Take a Bite Out of Hate: Cookies for a Cause" went to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Fund for Victims of Terror. On Oct. 27, 2018, 11 people were killed in a mass shooting at the synagogue, located in the Squirrel Hill section of the city.
Those who donated were treated to cookies — representing Mexico, Norway, Germany, France, South Africa, China, Italy, the United States, Poland, Scotland, Canada and Israel — prepared by Cal U Dining and Hospitality Services.
Cal U faculty members Dr. Emily Sweitzer and Dr. Christina Toras collaborated on the fundraiser.
Preschool children from the Karen and Tom Rutledge Institute for Early Childhood Education, members of the Cal U String Orchestra and children from the Calvary Chapel Christian School in Brownsville performed at the event.
The Rutledge students sang “Spread Kindness” and made banners depicting what love means to them.
“The children made the day extremely special, and this is a good start to what hopefully becomes a nice tradition that just gets bigger and better,” Toras said.
Cherie Sears, director of the Rutledge Institute Preschool Program, said it was important for the preschoolers to participate.
“Kids have an innocence to them. Let’s try and keep that, but let’s also show them that we can all get along and be kind to each other,” she said. “Unfortunately, the tragedy was so close to home, and lot of them know about it because the TVs are on. They need some kind of reassurance.
“Today they got to be the little helpers,” she said, a reference to the late Fred Rogers’ advice to “look for the helpers” for comfort and inspiration in times of tragedy.
Cal U first-year athletic training major Katelynn Sahady, a graduate of Calvary Chapel Christian School, enjoyed hearing some of her former schoolmates sing a medley.
“I think it’s great to raise money and keep a positive awareness of what happened,” she said.
Cal U cross country and track and head coach Daniel Caulfield attended the event with his wife, Jackie, who is also an assistant coach.
“It’s a lovely event that deals with such a tragic situation. It’s important in taking the University where it wants to go in coming together and moving forward, especially for our students,” he said.
“You must appreciate the time and effort put into this.”
Scott Bush, an instructor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, was glad he made the event part of his day.
“This was a something different, a very classy event for a good cause,” he said.
Sweitzer estimated 180 members of the Cal U community stopped by the Performance Center.
“We want to continue addressing causes or issues,” Sweitzer said of future events. “It’s very natural to do so by being in each other’s company for pure enjoyment,” she said.