Acting on AIDS to host activities for World AIDS Day

FOR RELEASE
2005-11-29
Huntington, Ind.—On Thursday, December 1, 2005, Huntington University will recognize the 18th annual World AIDS Day. Along with their peers at dozens of Christian colleges nationwide, Huntington students will host activities throughout the day to raise AIDS awareness among students, faculty, and staff.

The observance is being planned by the student group, Acting on AIDS, an initiative of World Vision. Activities include handing out red ribbons, hosting a prayer meeting, raising funds, and sponsoring a project called “Hanging by a Thread.”

The student group will place collection boxes throughout campus to support the “Change for Change” fundraiser. Organizers hope their fellow students will donate spare change to an organization involved with AIDS.

“‘Change for Change’ is an easy way for HU students to do something about what’s going on in Africa,” said Susan Bensen, leader of the Acting on AIDS campus awareness committee and a sophomore public relations major from Chicago.

At 6 p.m. students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to meet on the mall for a time of community prayer geared toward the AIDS crisis. Two to three students will guide the prayer. Along with a moment of silence, there will be a reading of the names of children affected by AIDS. At the end, there will be an opportunity to break into small groups to continue prayer.

Throughout the day, students will see several pictures of children hanging all over campus as part of a project sponsored by World Vision called “Hanging by a Thread.”

“Imagine walking through our campus and seeing children everywhere. They’re hanging in doorways, in the cafeteria, and in classroom. They aren’t laughing or playing – they’re standing still, waiting for someone’s prayer and compassion. They are orphans and vulnerable children looking at you. The truth is, these children do exist. They live in poverty-stricken communities around the world devastated by HIV/AIDS,” reads a posting on World Vision’s Acting on AIDS Web site.

Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to take a picture with an image of a child and continue praying throughout the day for their specific child as well as the other children around the world. There also will be an opportunity to sponsor a child.

“As a group on campus, Acting on AIDS wants to help students and staff remember and be informed about what’s going on with AIDS in the world,” Bensen said.

Bensen, sophomore Beth Warblow, and assistant director of campus ministries Nicole Fain have worked with World Vision to make this day a success.

“World Vision’s Acting on AIDS group has really helped us get the connections we need as a group on campus,” Bensen said. “They provide a link to conversations with other Christian campuses around the country so that we can all be working as the body of Christ to get involved with Africa and AIDS.”

Last February Fain took a group of students to Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., for a student AIDS summit. Both Bensen and Warblow were among the group of students who learned about AIDS from people like Steve Haas, vice president of church relations for World Vision, and the band Jars of Clay.

“I first became aware of HIV/AIDS in high school,” Bensen said. “It has always been something in the back of my mind. When the opportunity came up about going to Wheaton, I went. The trip played a big role in my involvement with Acting on AIDS and is sort of where we realized as a group we wanted to do something to get our campus involved with the crisis in Africa and around the globe.”

Since the AIDS summit, a group of students has met once a month to talk about AIDS and what can be done globally, locally, and on campus to raise awareness about the crisis. For the past month, the campus awareness committee has planned events for World AIDS Day.

For more information or to get involved in the university’s Acting on AIDS chapter contact Beth Warblow at bethwarblow@huntington.edu or Susan Bensen at susanbensen@huntington.edu. For more information about World AIDS Day, log on to www.worldvision.org.

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Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S.News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest. Founded in 1897 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Huntington University is located on a contemporary, lakeside campus in northeast Indiana. The University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and in 2004 was named one of the 50 best Christian places to work by Christianity Today magazine.  
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