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UC Irvine Students Wind Up Latest Fast to Raise Funds for African Famine Relief

Times Staff Writer

By 3 p.m., there were few cars in the parking lot at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater, and a gathering of UC Irvine students had raised even fewer pledges--exactly $95.50--to end hunger in Africa.

But that did not make much difference to the students, who ended a 30-day fast (fasters participated in 10-day shifts) on Saturday. After all, it was a weeklong fast started by two students last November that sparked a countywide movement that has raised more than $200,000 to date.

The students had been staging their public fast in a cluster of tents on the UCI campus until Saturday, when they moved to the amphitheater, the site of a daylong “Orange County Artists for World Hunger” benefit concert. The organizers of the fast, students Allen Affeldt and Johannes Van Vugt, had inspired Stein-Brief Group, a Laguna Niguel development company, to found the Orange County African Relief Fund. The fund raised $100,000 in less than a year and the Ahmanson Foundation matched that amount last week.

“We reached our goal,” Van Vugt said of the latest fast, although a chart to his left showed the students to be about $1,500 short of their $10,000 target. “At least we’ve raised people’s consciousness of the problem.”

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Chris Townsend, a Stein-Brief company spokesman, said UCI and other county schools have raised $7,000 in cash and $8,500 in pledges on their own so far. He said $207,000 was presented last week to Oxfam America, a relief organization that uses the money for both food and education programs.

“They (Oxfam) go beyond just the immediate and look to long-term solutions,” he said.

The Stein-Brief company is now preparing to take part in an Oxfam-organized, nationwide fast on Nov. 21, a week before Thanksgiving.

As the concert thundered on behind them, the UCI students soaked up 85--degree weather and continued collecting pledges. Some were discussing next week’s final exams, but most of the conversation was about their next big project--a 255-day “pro-peace” march across the United States next year.

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UCI students hope to raise $15,000 to fund their participation in the march, said Genny Grisham, who was busy selling $7.50 T-shirts that read “ZOT NUCLEAR WEAPONS” (“zot” being the sound supposedly made by the school’s mascot, an anteater).


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