UI senior launches diaper fundraiser


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While Kelly Loch lives in Iowa City, busy completing her final year at the University of Iowa, her thoughts are often elsewhere.

Last summer, Loch fulfilled a lifelong dream when she traveled to Guatemala to volunteer at Fundación Salvación, an orphanage in Huehuetenango, around five hours south of Guatemala City.

Loch said that in a way, part of her never really left.

“It’s hard being so far away, but I’m glad I’m still able to help,” she said.

This help has taken the form of a fundraiser through More Than Compassion, a child sponsorship program that runs Fundación Salvación in addition to a bilingual elementary school and a women’s and girl’s center in Guatemala.

“[We seek] first to provide for the immediate need of the kids — food, running water, electricity, basic medical needs, etc.,” said Alycia Harrah, the director of operations at More Than Compassion.

This kind of work was exactly what Loch had looked for.

“I’ve always loved working with children, and it’s been a dream of mine to take a mission trip,” Loch said.

When Loch’s friend Aiden Killick, a UI graduate who works with Fundación Salvacion in Guatemala today, told Loch about the orphanage, she jumped at the chance.

“[Loch] is someone that will go out of her way for the benefit of others,” Killick said. 

When Loch first heard of the opportunity to help orphans in Guatemala, she wasted little time in making it happen. She spent two months planning the trip in the fall of 2013, and by February had booked the tickets.

She landed in Guatemala City just a few months later, in a country that didn’t speak her language and didn’t share her culture.

The apprehension that had been building on the bus ride melted away at her first meeting with the children.

“They swarmed me, and gave me hugs, and helped me carry my luggage,” Loch said.

Soon after she arrived, Loch got to work by teaching English and math, helping clean laundry and dishes by hand, and, most importantly, making lasting relationships with the children.

Over time, Loch became bothered by the lack of proper diapers for the infants.

“We only had one size of diaper, and some of the bigger children had sores because the diapers were so tight on them,” Loch said.

Harrah said buying something like diapers can be costly.

“Kelly recognized this need and understood that it was not an area where we could necessarily cut corners,” she said.

Loch soon began the fundraiser with More Than Compassion, creating a page on the website and writing a short story about the children in the nursery. Her goal was to provide diapers for the orphanage for one year, roughly $3,750.

In almost no time, the fundraiser had exceeded this goal. The website raised approximately $700 in the first day, and it has since raised $4,566. This influx of money has gone further than the organization expected.

“We will not only be able to cover the cost of diapers and wipes, but also baby formula, new bottles, cribs, and more,” Harrah said.

Still, Loch isn’t satisfied.

“Now that I reached my goal, I have no intention of stopping,” she said.

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