Students use fashion to raise over $9,000 for drug awareness
LAU students hold fashion show and party at Commodore Hotel to raise awareness about drug rehabilitation and prevention.
“Don’t do drugs” is the message 10 LAU public relations students were sending at a charity fashion event called “Sobriety in Style” at the Commodore Hotel in Beirut on January 16.
Organized as part of the course Introduction to Public Relations with Dr. Ramez Maluf, chair of LAU’s Communication Arts Department, the event included a fashion show featuring local boutiques and international and local designers, as well as a hair show, live entertainment and an alcohol-free cocktail party.
LAU students and graduates were behind three of the showcased brands — Tamara Designs, Clara & Lula, and Miri NJ Bags.
Approximately 380 people attended the event, which was covered by local and international media, and over $9,000 in net profits were donated to drug rehabilitation and prevention foundation Oum el Nour.
The 10 students — Alia Samman, Natalia El Mani, Jihane de Freige, Nicolas Hadad, Maria Antoun, Tala Tourbah, Karim Jamaleddine, Myriam Agha, Raha Richani and Ali Yassen — collaborated with about 15 companies and individual sponsors. Thirty-one volunteering students from various high schools and universities in Lebanon modeled. Tickets for the event were sold for $40.
A raffle gave attendees the opportunity to win mobile phones, DVDs, spa treatments, gym memberships, free manicures and pedicures, handbags, and other goodies from sponsors.
According to student coordinator Alia Samman the event was not just a fashion show — it also raised awareness about drug abuse, a problem ignored by many in Lebanon. “We would like to think we opened the attendees’ eyes to a problem they were turning a blind eye to,” she says.
Samman says getting funding was a challenge, as many companies did not want to be associated with drugs in any way. She explained: “We asked certain big companies for financial donations and they were interested until they knew the cause, and they did not want to relate their name to drugs in any way.”
The assistant general manager at the Oum el Nour foundation, Pamela Hakim, says the students clearly demonstrated awareness of the problem as well as a willingness to take action. “It reflects their acceptance and support of our cause. It shows they perceive a person with drug addiction as an individual worthy to help, care for and support,” she says.
It is not easy to stop drug use by decreasing drug supply and trafficking, Hakim says. Instead, reducing the demand for drugs by raising awareness is effective, she adds.
Recent LAU graduate Miri Najarian, who launched Miri NJ Bags last year, says she participated for the exposure but also for the cause. “We need more prevention for drug abuse in Lebanon because even though we don’t really talk about it, it’s going on a lot. It’s really important that we be aware of these things,” she says.
“The effort put in the planning, organizing and realizing the event was impressive. It showed that the students were driven by their enthusiasm,” says Hakim.