Dumbledore’s Army of Volunteers

Dumbledore’s Army of New Paltz has been fighting against the dark arts, to make a difference among the community, for two years now. The club does not  concentrate on the fictitious novels from the Harry Potter series, but sets its focus on fighting against dark arts in the real world.

The student organization, founded in 2010, has 20 “soldiers” who volunteer and help support animal rights, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer rights, and fight against hunger in the New Paltz area.  Since its inception, the army hosted events, fundraisers and collected donations for everyday items.

This SUNY New Paltz army is one of many chapters in the national Harry Potter Alliance.

“If anybody brings a cause to us, we do what we can to help financially with food, clothes, and book drives,” said Molly Thurston, a third-year double major in anthropology and Latin American studies and vice president of the Dumbledore’s Army.

This chapter blends the world of witchcraft and wizardry, inspired by the series by J.K. Rowling, with human services and volunteering.

Last month, the army hosted its first Yule Ball, which raised $850 for the Humane Society of the United States, Thurston said. The formal dance, based off the celebration in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” was catered by Harvest Café and Moxie Cupcake.

Nicole Brinkley, the Army’s public relations official and second-year double major in English and journalism with a concentration in public relations, said it’s important to have a club like theirs on campus because it opens doors into the volunteerism.

“It involves fun ways in places that are needed and puts volunteering in an enjoyable light,” she said. “Let’s save some starving children and have fandom.”

Each March the chapter donates to the Accio Books! drive, which is sponsored by the Harry Potter Alliance. Harry Potter fans across the world donated more than 55,000 books to their local communities since 2009, according to the Harry Potter Alliance.

“Since we are a chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance, we get people to donate old books to local libraries or any libraries depending on who needs books,” Thurston said.

The Army’s next project is the “Hunger is Not a Game” food drive named after the book and movie, “The Hunger Games.” The members will decorate boxes to collect nonperishable foods. The boxes will be in the Jacobson Faculty Tower, Student Union Building, the Humanities Building, and many other locations around campus. Thurston says that the food collected will be sent out to local food pantries.

The Army strives to create new fundraisers that reach new people who may not be Harry Potter fans. The members include games and food in their fundraising events to attract these new people.

“Don’t get scared off by the Harry Potter logo in our name,” Thurston said. “We want to help out and help other clubs. We are open ears.”

After spring break the Army is presenting a “Night of Exciting Wizarding Trivia.” Thurston says it will be a huge trivia game where members will be sorted in houses, such as Gryffindor or Slytherin, with their own banners and crests. The house that answers the most questions correctly will win the game.

Dumbledore’s Army encourages new members to join and make a difference in their community. Jack Hottum, a fourth-year geology major, stressed that every community needs to help out by donating food, blankets, and clothes.

“We are less of a wizarding club and more of a club that tries to decrease world suck,” Hottum said. Thurston says the club is currently planning a trip to the Dutchess County SPCA to volunteer and help out animals in need.

For more information, email hpanewpaltz@gmail.com or visit the club’s Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/groups/345090118085/.

Michael LaPick

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