Meelia hosts dodgeball for Syria and Turkey


The winning Lingua Franca Smashers team pose with their awards as winners of the dodgeball tournament. (Courtesy / @sacmeeliacenter)

Maya Pontes, Crier Staff

Students and staff teamed up for a competitive, fun-filled dodgeball tournament that benefitted an important cause. Volunteers from the Meelia Center and Campus Ministry offices collaborated to organize the tournament to raise money for people affected by natural disasters in Turkey and Syria. The tournament took place on Sunday, April 16, 2023 at 10:00 am in the Carr Center.

On February 6, 2023 the southeastern region of Turkey and northwestern region of Syria were devastated by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed approximately 47,000 people and left hundreds of thousands without homes. The numbers of people killed and displaced continue to rise. Both Turkey and Syria are facing shortages of vital medical supplies and food.

Meelia Center Community Events Co-Coordinators Gigi Goulet ‘25 and Ellie Carlson-McNally ‘23 were intently involved in the planning and organizing of the tournament. Their goal was to raise money to support people affected by this destruction currently left without homes, facing the deaths of loved ones, and struggling with the scarcity of resources. 

The idea for a dodgeball tournament is not new to the Meelia Center, which has used the event as a means of fundraising in the past. Goulet and Carlson-McNally explained that the center decided to bring it back this year and to combine it with their annual spring fundraising event as an engaging way to get people involved. 

For the past month, the Meelia Center’s full time staff and Community Events team worked on coordinating and preparing the event in partnership with Campus Ministry. “They have been a great help in finding an organization to donate to and in reaching out to people who are interested in participating and donating,” said Goulet and Carlson-McNally.

The two offices decided on Catholic Relief Services as the organization to which their funds would go to support Syria and Turkey. “Relief efforts in both countries are led by local partners. The donations we collect will help partners to provide safe shelter and access to food, clean water, and hygiene supplies for those affected,” Goulet and Carlson-McNally explained. 

On the day of the event, participants gathered at the Carr Center to play multiple rounds of dodgeball. Those who played gave a $10 donation which served as their ticket to play and their donation towards Catholic Relief Services.

Two teams competed in the tournament: the Koiniona Society and the winning Lingua Franca Smashers, made up of Modern Language Professors, students, and native speakers. 

Madigan Keating ‘26, a member of the Meelia Center’s Community Fellows, described the fun environment during the fundraiser: “It was awesome. They all brought their families to cheer them on, and they had matching outfits.”

In true Anselmian fashion, the event brought out a spirit of healthy competition. “We had a smashing time and team. We are training for next year. Come and try to beat us,” said Gabriella Fournier ‘24, a member of the winning MLL dodgeball team.

Professor Jaime Orrego, associate professor of Spanish and Chair of MLL department, shared that he was glad his department was able to participate in the fun event. “It was a great bonding experience for us as a department to play in a very friendly environment with other students,” he said.

The team at the Meelia Center and Campus Ministry are dedicated to organizing similar events in the future, as their mission finds its foothold in the local community and beyond. Goulet and Carlson-McNally mentioned that the Meelia Center’s spring fundraisers are always chosen based on current events, allowing the Saint Anselm College community to come together to support causes that may seem distant, but are instead brought closer to home through the local promotion of awareness and fundraising efforts.

This notion was a point of passion for Keating. “At Meelia we always try to facilitate positive change in a respectful way, regardless of if that means it’s in our community, or if it’s farther away,” said Keating. “We hope that even small donations and support will make all the difference, whether that’s shining a light on the important cause or raising money to help as much as we can,” she continued.

So far, the tournament has raised $275. Although the tournament is over, Meelia is still accepting donations for Catholic Charities. For those wishing to donate, Goulet shared that there is a link in students and faculty’s email inboxes sent from the Meelia Center that connects to the page for donation. 


The Koiniona Society dodgeball team smile for a group photo. (Courtesy / @sacmeeliacenter)