Office of Learning Abroad Hosts Rubbish to Runway Fundraiser Event

Southern Utah University’s Office of Learning Abroad hosted Rubbish to Runway, a recyclable fashion fundraising contest, Wednesday evening.

The OLA partnered with Long Way Home, a nonprofit organization striving to empower and encourage community leadership to help combat poverty using eco-friendly solutions. Long Way Home, originating in San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala in 2005, helps build campuses and other buildings abroad to improve the lives of local communities.

The event, introduced and moderated by learning abroad assistant Jaycee Carter, featured five outfit entries from four creators. The outfits were made out of various objects such as plastic bags, soda cans and other “rubbish.” At the end of the event, attendees voted for their favorite outfits by donating money to the cause. 

Three preliminary winners were chosen at the end of the night and OLA will be accepting further donation votes throughout the week online. At the end, one final winner will be chosen.

“What motivated me really was the Guatemalan children and students in Guatemala who are underprivileged than we are,” said Lawrence Mbaki, an SUU student majoring in theatre arts and music education who designed two of the outfits featured in the contest. “It’s not about me at all. It’s about the children who need to go to school and things like that, and the cause that we’re fundraising for.”

The event raised money to build schools and community centers in Guatemala using recycled materials. The funds provided will enable local students in Guatemala to participate in the construction of facilities, enabling them to become leaders in their communities.

“The Office of Learning Abroad runs a short term study abroad program in Guatemala every summer, and so [Long Way Home] heard about that and so they reached out to us to see if we would be interested,” said Jaycee Carter. “Our office likes to get involved with stuff like this and with fundraising and helping the earth…so we just decided to partner with them.”

The event’s intermission featured a contest for attendees in which they were tasked with creating an accessory for one of the outfits, made with objects provided by the end of the intermission. The winner of the best accessory was awarded a gift card and a bag of candy.

“We are able to take care of the ecosystem, we are able to take care of recyclables,” said Mbaki. “If everyone could just try, the ecosystem would be better than it is right now.”

If you would like to donate to the cause and vote for an outfit, visit the OLA’s donation page


Story and photos by: Sasha Johnson