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Ohio State’s Rotaract Club combats children’s cancer with cocoa

Chris Poche/ Design editor

Students will have an opportunity to taste something sweet while supporting children with cancer this weekend at Cocoa For Kids, a chocolate tasting and silent auction held by Ohio State’s Rotaract Club.

The event is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Friday at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, located at 2201 Fred Taylor Dr. and proceeds will go toward Kids ‘n Kamp, a central Ohio charity devoted to the emotional and educational needs of children with cancer.

The club switched its fundraising approach for Kids ‘n Kamp this year from a wine tasting, which it had put on in the past, to a chocolate tasting to attract students younger than 21.

“The primary reason we chose chocolate tasting would be the demographic,” said Kyle Armstrong, a fourth-year in international studies and president of Rotaract. “We wanted to target or incorporate all OSU students, not just ones that are 21 years or older. We wanted the Ohio State community to have the opportunity to be more involved with the cause.”

Rotaract Club is an organization with a mission of bringing peace and international understanding to the world with the help of Rotary International, according to the club’s website.

The event will showcase a variety of chocolate selections from a local vendor, the Chocolate Café, as well as an independently contracted chocolatier Tracy Nickison with Dove Chocolate Discoveries. Those in attendance will receive 10 samples of chocolate in total, five from each vendor.

A silent auction will feature items and offers donated by Cocoa For Kids’ assortment of sponsors, Armstrong said.

Amid organizing a variety of community service projects throughout the year, the Rotaract Club started focusing on Kids ‘n Kamp in mid-March. 

“Before (spring break), we had a couple of other projects that took a lot of our focus,” said Eric Crawford, a second-year in finance and Rotaract international committee chair. “After those things, we really started to devote a lot of time and attention to planning the event.”

After raising $5,000 in last year’s wine tasting fundraiser, Armstrong said he hopes Cocoa For Kids will develop into a staple annual event for the group and eventually raise an equal or greater amount for an organization such as Kids ‘n Kamp.

“OSU students could eventually say, ‘Oh yeah, chocolate tasting. We know about this,'” Armstrong said. “We helped Kids ‘n Kamp with the wine tasting event last year, and we kind of made them a promise that they would be beneficiaries for another fundraiser. We like the cause and we’ve really gotten to network with them.”

Beverly Circone, founder and executive director of Kids ‘n Kamp, said the organization relies heavily on contributions from groups such as Rotaract to support more than 450 childhood cancer families involved with the program.

“One of the things we’re very proud of here at Kids ‘n Kamp is that we have never ever turned a family away,” Circone said. “When we get a new family, we sure are glad to have them because we know how much they need our services, our emotional support and financial support.

“Every new family, however, is an increase in our expenses, but somehow we always make it through. Certainly it’s because of groups like Rotaract that we’ve maintained for 30 years without ever turning a family away. We couldn’t be more pleased.”

The feeling is mutual for Rotaract, who originally chose Kids ‘n Kamp as its charity of choice due to the impact a single donation can have.

“It’s really these charities that help people but don’t necessarily get a lot of attention for themselves,” Crawford said. “When they do get attention and help from somebody like us, it really does make a difference. That’s what we were going for.”

Tickets are available at www.cocoa4kids.com. Prices are set at $15 for adults and $10 for students with a valid BuckID.

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