Dumbledore’s Army, SUNY New Paltz’s chapter of the international advocacy group, The Harry Potter Alliance, has begun working on a fundraiser called Accio books in order to donate to the Bedford-Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School in Brooklyn, N.Y., which opened in September without a library.
“Harry Potter Alliance takes themes from Harry Potter and uses them to fight for themes such as literacy, which is why we are doing the book drive,” said Chapter Organizer Beverly Schreiber.
Although Dumbledore’s Army set up boxes across campus, they will be going around to the residence halls until April 22 to collect books that didn’t make it into the boxes designed by club members to look like each of the Hogwarts houses.
To publicize this event, the club had a screening of the fan-made musical “A Very Potter Sequel,” a play by a theatre group from the University of Michigan based on the plot and characters of the Harry Potter books and movies. In exchange for free pizza, students were encouraged to bring a book to donate.
Everyone at the screening shared a passion for Harry Potter, but Schreiber takes the cake for being the most enthusiastic Harry Potter fan. She brought a complete Harry Potter collection to New Paltz, including every book, movie and poster in the series that was displayed proudly on her side of the room.
“I read the first Harry Potter book when I was nine. For the next three years, I read one a year,” said Schreiber.
Schreiber was inspired to create the chapter after entering a contest to win an autographed copy of the books on the Harry Potter Alliance website. Their overall mission of “literacy, equality and human rights worldwide” moved her, and since then the club has been going strong.
The club is not only for Harry Potter fans but for people who want to make a difference.
“You don’t have to be a huge Harry Potter fan to enjoy it,” said Nicole Brinkley, one of the club’s public relations officers.
Brinkley originally was not going to join, but was introduced to it by her roommate, Julia Fell, the club’s secretary.
Although the Harry Potter Alliance is not widely known on campus, Dumbledore’s Army is attempting to change this. They have worked with Accio books as well as other clubs on campus like Fresh Water for Developing Nations and even created their own team for “Relay For Life.”
“I didn’t know about the Harry Potter Alliance until I came here…They do awesome things, help people and incorporate Harry Potter into it,” said Jenna Ferremi, a first-year student.
Jimmy Farnworth, the Council of Orgs representative for the club, said that although he was originally drawn to the club for the Harry Potter part and the book discussions, he enjoyed getting involved around campus.
“We were taking part in different events and doing things to help people,” said Farnworth. “We start off the meetings with organizing charity events and stuff, but there’s always fun things to do…It doesn’t have to be Harry Potter, clubs like this can happen with any common interest. Once you band together, you can create friendships and do good things.”
Those interested in joining can bring their wizard hats, real or imagined, to Student Union 401/405 every Thursday from 8 to 9 p.m.