A new student group raised over $400 selling cookie-grams for Valentine’s Day, providing cookies and a note for a special someone — and, they hope, a bone marrow transplant for a boy in Romania.

Members of the Children and Orphan Relief Effort, or CORE, hope to raise money for Bogdan Ioan, a Romanian boy with leukemia. CORE President Smaranda Luca ’04 said the money will pay for Ioan to travel to California, where doctors have agreed to treat him for free. CORE members sold cookie-grams outside Commons at lunchtime and the Pierson College Dining Hall during dinner, Luca said.

Luca said Ioan’s family is waiting for results of blood tests to determine if his parents can provide bone marrow for the operation. If they do not match, Ioan will still have to find another donor, which would cost significantly more than the $250,000 transplant, Luca said.

CORE members, who began the group last fall, plan to collect money for orphanages and hospital supplies to send to Romania, India and other countries. The group held a bake sale and clothing drive for orphanages in Romania in December.

CORE’s main focus at the moment is getting prompt medical attention for Ioan. But CORE Vice President Nate Lawrie ’04 explained that the organization is still only beginning its fund-raising efforts.

“Our first project is saving this little boy,” Lawrie said. “We’re planning different projects in the future but this is really our first [fund-raising] experience. We’re trying to get a feel for how to do a fund-raising campaign.”

Luca, a native of Romania, founded the group after traveling to hospitals and there as a child.

“We’re trying to help a pediatrics hospital in Romania get better medical equipment,” Luca said. “They don’t have anything — it’s like a 500-kid hospital with one oxygen machine.”

In the future, CORE members hope to expand the group’s efforts to other countries where there might be needy children and orphans, Luca said.

“We’re open to anything,” Luca said. “There’s one girl in our organization who’s really interested in India — we try to pick places where our members are interested or where they are going, so we can see the before and after.”

CORE members said they are pleased with the results of their first big fund-raising event, but they are eager to find other ways to raise money for children in disadvantaged countries. Lawrie said even though CORE members will no longer be staffing a booth outside of dining halls, the organization will still happily accept any contributions.

“Since the fundraising is going to be over tomorrow, [anybody interested] can contact Smaranda Luca if they still want to make a donation,” Lawrie said.

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