Some Caribfest proceeds benefit two local groups

David Joseph

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Students painted flags on their faces from the different Caribbean Countries and had their flags and waved them around during the first performance of the Soca Show Monday night. This performance won second place. Photo by Rachel Johnson

Students painted flags on their faces from the different Caribbean Countries and had their flags and waved them around during the first performance of the Soca Show Monday night. This performance won second place. Photo by Rachel Johnson

CaribFest brings Wichita Falls alive with a dazzling fusion of colors, fast beat soca music, uniquely hand-made costumes and creative art with the infectious tropical rhythmic sounds.

The festival also provides an opportunity for participants to raise money to benefit two local groups.

Rhea Durand, 2014 CaribFest chair and senior in chemistry, said, “Giving to charity is just our way of being thankful and grateful to the community and MWSU. I believe that giving a little money here and there isn’t anything to our organization. We love Wichita Falls and we love the community members and we want to stake our claims here in Wichita Falls.”

One organization that will be benefiting from this donation is the Wichita Falls Independent School District which will use the money received from the Caribbean Students Organization toward scholarships at Midwestern State University.

Alefia Paris-Toulon, the director of federal and state programs at WFISD, said, “The cost of education is expensive and for students graduating from the school’s district to be able to pursue post-secondary education is remarkable. We are pleased to partner with any organization that can make a possible financial support for our students to transition to post-secondary education.”

CSO partnered with WFISD for five years and Paris-Toulon said the relationship with CSO is an extensive one since their partnership goes beyond the scholarship.

“WFISD has been a home in term of employment for a number of CSO members and this collaboration means a lot to me,” Paris-Toulon said. “As a former president of CSO, I think it is important as an organization for us to give back to our community and as an employee of the district, even if you get paid that charitable work is important and so the benefits and partnership is important.”

Tarina Simon, marketing senior, singing her song that she wrote, "Alice in Wonderland", at the Soca Show Monday Night. "I was looking forward to performing the idea that came to me for this song. It actually came from me from looking at these red shoes, and I wanted to go home and so I recorded what came to me on my phone and sent it into my producer," says Simon. Photo by Rachel Johnson

Tarina Simon, marketing senior, singing her song that she wrote, “Alice in Wonderland”, at the Soca Show Monday Night. “I was looking forward to performing the idea that came to me for this song. It actually came from me from looking at these red shoes, and I wanted to go home and so I recorded what came to me on my phone and sent it into my producer,” says Simon. Photo by Rachel Johnson

The funds CSO makes also helps benefit Wichita Falls because CSO brings that international flavor to MSU and Wichita Falls and money goes back into the home town university.

Paris-Toulon said, “The funds translate to the community on a whole because as a parent who lives in the community, I can have the opportunity to have my child attending a university in our home town and that is important to some parents and for some students to stay close to home. I mean charity begins at home.”

In addition to giving funds to the school district, the students also plan to give of the revenue, about $2,000, to the Arc of Wichita County, an organization that is funded by donations, memberships, fundraising events, grants and the Hands to Hands Community Fund.  This is the first time CSO is partnering with this organization.

Marlene Goldstein, executive director, said, “We welcome the donation and are really grateful for the CSO partnership.  Financial support is very important to keep our organization operating in our community”

Goldstein said, “The Arc of Wichita County looks forward to the continued commitment of CSO in making a difference for people with developmental disabilities.”

Last year CSO donated $750 each to WFISD and the Kitchen and Pastry house. This year CSO will give the profit from ticket sales to WFSID and the Arc of Wichita County. Committee members set a target of 1,000 patrons to support their food sale on parade day.

At the cost of a food ticket which is $7, this means they are projecting a $7,000 revenue. Admission from the pageant and Glow Fete will generate additional revenue.

Donna-Lisa Nelson, biology major and president of CSO, said narrowing down the charity to two organizations, a joint decision made by the CSO executive and the CaribFest committee, enables CSO to make an impact on two charities as opposed to three.

The band warmed up while getting ready for the Soca Show Monday Night where Tarina Simon, marketing senior, won first place. Photo by Rachel Johnson

The band warmed up while getting ready for the Soca Show Monday Night where Tarina Simon, marketing senior, won first place. Photo by Rachel Johnson

Nelson said, “We have made Wichita Falls our home and as part of making Wichita Falls our home, the community has supported us in almost every aspect of settling down and attending Midwestern State University. Therefore, it’s our way of saying thank you, thank you for accepting us and integrating us into the Wichita Falls community, and making us locals and not International Students.”

The partnership with CSO and WFISD is one that hits home.

“We have a lot of people who went through the CSO hierarchy who actually established and working now in the WFISD. Being a student organization, we understand and we identify how crucial scholarships can become in our lives,” Nelson said. “This is why we feel so dearly and closely with the WFISD, so that we could assist students who are otherwise not able to get an education or access top quality education at minimal cost and that is why CSO continue with their charity partnership with WFISD.”

In the first 13 years, CSO donated more than $15,000, about $1,100 per year, in charity since the inception of CaribFest to organizations, which includes the Kitchen, Patsy’s House, WFISD, Hands Across the Sea, and the Boys and Girls Club of Wichita Falls.

Jontel Joseph, freshman in criminal justice, said, “I think it is very good initiative, for such a small organization to be able to help the community of Wichita Falls each year. It is remarkable considering the fact that CSO doesn’t make a huge profit but is able to make an impact each year in the lives of others and the community.”

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