Families from the Ithaca community came together to enjoy the 10th annual Family Carnival, hosted by the Ithaca College Student United Way, at the Fitness Center on April 6.
The carnival was hosted in the Mondo Floor Gym and the Wood Floor Gym and had many activities for children and families from the Ithaca community. Throughout the space were tables for arts and crafts, face painting, raffles and a photo booth. Children could also play games such as hitting baseballs, throwing a football through a hula hoop and jumping in two bouncy houses. The cost of the event was $4 per person and $16 for a family of five or more. The money the carnival raised will be totaled up by the end of the semester.
Senior Michele Siu, president of the IC Student United Way, said the event typically brings in approximately 50 families and raises anywhere between $800–$1,000 for local nonprofits. She said the event focused on families with children under the age of 10 and provided a lot of hands-on activities.
“It’s a way for Ithaca College to connect to the local community,” Siu said. “We want kids to go out with their families and have fun.”
Before the carnival, nonprofit organizations filled out applications and sent them to the club in hopes of receiving money. Freshman Elijah Nishiura said that after the money has been raised, members of the club read the applications and pick the charities it wants to donate the money to in the fall.
“Our strategy to picking charities is, ‘how can we help the most people and do the most good,’” Nishiura said.
Regan Ralston, communication and engagement manager for the United Way of Tompkins County, said all proceeds go back to the community to benefit the IC Student United Way’s grant program, in which funds are allocated to nonprofit organizations that serve Tompkins County. Last year, the grant program provided funds for the Ithaca Toy Library and the History Center.
Sophomore Courtney Nilssen said one of the perks of hosting fundraisers is that it helps the local charities that aren’t always able to hold fundraisers.
“We want to give back to the community,” Nilssen said. “It’s hard for a local charity to do a huge fundraiser and get their money, so we raise the money ourselves and donate it back.”
Nilssen said the United Way has been planning the carnival since the beginning of the semester. Even though the event was organized by only six club members, it was advertised to schools across the Ithaca community, and 45 students from the college volunteered at the event.
Ralston said she thinks the carnival is a great way for students at the college to engage with the community.
“It is a great opportunity to bring youth involvement in a very unique way here,” Ralston said. “It’s a great way to start activism young as well. I think personally, it’s a great opportunity for children to see things like United Way and charities and organizations working together.”
Sara Fishel, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, said she has attended the event with her children for the past three years.
“My kids absolutely love it,” Fishel said. “We’ve been coming and we had a great time last year, so we wanted to come back.”
Ralston said she is extremely proud of how the IC Student United Way organizes this event each year.
“The United Way of Tompkins County is really proud of all the work that our Ithaca College students do,” Ralston said. “I think this is a unique way to provide an opportunity for youth and the youth of staff at Ithaca College and the youth of the town.”