While growing up, Smaranda Luca ’04 would travel to orphanages in Romania with her grandparents, who are both doctors. Her experiences inspired her to start the Children and Orphan Relief Effort, or CORE, at Yale.

The group gathers money and supplies for orphanages and hospitals in Romania and India. Members at Yale are trying to make it an official organization and are planning to hold a bake sale next week to raise funds, Luca said.

Group members are also trying to expand the program to other countries, and hope to focus on hospitals and pediatric care, said Nate Lawrie ’04, CORE vice president. Megan Whittaker ’04, another vice president, will travel to India to visit orphanages next semester, Luca said. In India, Whittaker will help select one orphanage, on which the group will focus its efforts.

“We want two big projects so we can see that we are making a difference,” Luca said.

CORE members plan to raise money for the orphanages through fund-raisers, such as a bake sale, tentatively scheduled for next week, and a raffle with gift certificates donated by local New Haven stores as prizes, Luca said. In addition to raising money, CORE collects medical supplies and clothes by writing to companies, hospitals and children’s groups soliciting donations and old equipment that would otherwise be thrown out.

The focus has shifted in Romania from helping orphanages to pediatric hospitals, where the situation is much more dire, Luca said.

“Several years ago a Baroness visited orphanages and was shocked at the conditions which she said were ‘unfit for a dog’ so they have received a lot of publicity and aid,” Luca said. “However, the hospitals have no equipment. Major hospitals have two oxygen machines and doctors take infants blood pressure by pressing their veins and counting. We are going to do something to help one hospital.”

Luca said she started a similar program in high school, where her group raised thousands of dollars and traveled to Romania several times. Her idea has spawned similar groups at Trinity College and Wesleyan University.

“[In high school] we ended up helping two different orphanages substantially,” Luca said. “We got donations from everywhere. If it worked that well in high school, it should work even better here.”

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