Through the power of peanuts, four University of Rhode Island students partnered with the local non-profit, Edesia, and are saving children’s lives across the world with their “Make Your Green Count” campaign.
Based in Providence, Rhode Island, Edesia has formulated the “Plumpy’Nut,” a mixture of peanuts, condensed milk, sugars, vitamins and minerals that can make a severely malnourished child, who eats it every day, healthy again after six weeks. The product is unique because it can be fed to children 6 months and older, it doesn’t require fresh water or refrigeration, and families can easily give it to children in their homes.
After Kate O’Malley, an editor in URI’s Communications and Marketing Department, connected with Edesia in 2011, she saw their mission inspiring but also as an opportunity for students.
“It’s a great hands-on learning experience at URI for students,” said O’Malley. This year, she reached out to Public Relations Department Chair Regina Bell, to recruit students to take on the project as an independent study.
“I’m really proud to work with them,” said senior public relations student Kimberly DeLande, of her three fellow peers running the campaign. The team includes David St. Amant, Kylie Rice and Sergio Suhett. “The best part about this project is how well we’ve worked together. We all had strengths that really brought something meaningful and impactful to the table.”
Every box of the Plumpy’Nut costs $55 and one box can save a child’s life. The boxes will be sent to feed children in 40 different countries including Syria, Ethiopia, Niger and Haiti.
“We did a social media campaign similar to the ice bucket challenge,” said DeLande. “One person donates $5 then gets 10 of their friends to donate $5.”
They created a campaign video with the help of a film alumni from URI that those donating share on social media to spread the word. Since the beginning of March the team has helped spread awareness and raise $3,240. By St. Patrick’s Day, the end date of the campaign, their goal is to raise $10,000.
“The idea behind the campaign was to have a fun and clever way to talk about a serious issue,” said O’Malley. To kick off the campaign at the beginning of March, they held an event in the Memorial Union which gathered a lot of attention. President David Dooley came to support it, and it has even been featured on the URI homepage and by the Huffington Post.
“It’s been really amazing how once you have an honorable goal how many people are willing to help you spread your message to reach your goal,” said DeLande.
The group of students and O’Malley went to tour the Edesia factory in Providence over winter break before their campaign began. DeLande and O’Malley said it is special because many of the workers were former refugees from the countries they are now serving.
“One of the things that really comes across when you’re there is that everybody really cares, they have a purpose and this isn’t just work to them,” said O’Malley.
Although the Make Your Green Count campaign ends on St. Patrick’s Day, the PR team hopes donations will continue, and they encourage the community to learn more about their mission through their social media pages, their video, and on the URI website.
“It’s a great example of how people can come together and accomplish so much,” said DeLande.