On Thursday, January 31, the SAC Ballroom B was packed, and people waited on lines to enter Project Sunshine’s Masquerade Ball.
Red and green lights bounced off the ceiling and black, yellow and white balloons, as guests glided across the dance floor wearing masks of gold, yellow and red.
Senior Mohammed Naeem stood at the entrance, suggesting donations, credit card scanner in hand.
“I’m always looking for cutting edge ways to get people to give.”
Naeem and the rest of the Project Sunshine team, Asha Abraham and Faieja Chowdhury, realized that students didn’t always have cash on hand, and hence could not donate at big events like this ball. Naeem used Square, a card scanner attached to his phone that allowed him to transfer money from the students’ card balance to another account. It was the first time that any Stony Brook University event used this method of accepting donations.
Naeem founded Project Sunshine in order to bring happiness and normalcy to the lives of children in the Pediatric Clinic at Stony Brook Hospital, and wanted to make sure donations could be accepted in several different ways.
“People can donate. That’s the point of the event,” he said.
So, on Thursday night, the doors opened wide as over 350 people poured in, while Naeem stood, scanner in hand, at the entrance. The number of guests that swiped? A whopping total of one.
“It’s probably a good thing[…]It’s different,” said Morgan DiCarlo, a freshman. She opted to donate with cash rather than credit. Daksha Rajabhathor was another student that decided to donate with cash rather than credit, although she stated that she thinks scanning the cards “is a really good idea.”
So why would only one person buy into such a seemingly good idea?
Naeem refuted the idea that the method is insecure and unsafe. “Everything can be backtracked,” he said, and there are available records of the transaction.
Naeem believes that the very nature of the event contributed to why students had cash at hand. It was on a Thursday night, and many students planned on going elsewhere after the ball. However, he said he doesn’t mind: “I’d rather have cash.”
Even though only one person swiped to make a donation, Naeem isn’t ruling electronic donating out just yet.
“I think you have a way of making a program successful where people donate a successful amount of money…through cash or whatever. The main purpose is to fund-raise money.”
And fund-raise money they did. With a cupcake display by Myra and Company, the dubstep-spinning DJ, and their four-tiered cake, Naeem said Project Sunshine raised a pleasant amount of money, although national Project Sunshine policy forbids him from disclosing just how much.
Naeem attributed the success of Project Sunshine’s Masquerade Ball to the motivation and drive of his fellow members.
“When you have people believe in your cause, they go all out. If your team doesn’t believe in your cause, the events are going to lack enthusiasm. That’s not what we are about.”