BY DIANE HAYGEN, Guest Writer

The Orphan Relief Fund held its first meeting Thursday to discuss its mission and brainstorm fundraising ideas to benefit orphans locally and around the world.

Founder of the Orphan Relief Fund, Jessica Saraan, and co-founder Guruveer Chawla hope to raise awareness of the growing number of children around the world who are orphaned.

“Bringing people together –setting aside their differences – to help children who really need it is what we hope to achieve,” said Saraan.

The organization is striving to provide hope and opportunities for children who have lost their parents through death, disappearance, separation or abandonment.

Saraan and Chawla have contacted several local agencies, such as the Ennis Center for Children in Detroit and Vista Maria in Dearborn Heights, to determine the needs of children in their care. Clothes and personal care items, such as toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, and soap are in high demand, according to Saraan.

With over 20 members in its first year, the Orphan Relief Fund hopes to increase its membership by the end of the year.

Membership is open to all UM-D students who want to volunteer their time to make a difference in the lives of children in need.

The Orphan Relief Fund plans to hold its first fundraiser in November. Details of the event will be discussed at the next meeting on November 10 at 1:30 p.m. – location to be determined.

Meetings will be held once a month. Students who are not able to make the meetings will be kept informed of upcoming events and topics of discussion through email.

Members of the Orphan Relief Fund welcome the opportunity to collaborate with other student organizations that support their mission.

Contact Jessica Saraan at Jsaraan@umd.umich.edu for more information about the Orphan Relief Fund and for details regarding meetings.