Harry Potter Alliance raises money for Syrian Refugees

Marina Vences

The UT Harry Potter Alliance set up on the West Mall Tuesday for their Annual Butterbeer Sale to benefit Syrian refugees via the United Muslim Relief Syria Emergency Fund.

The organization spent the day selling butterbeer, a popular beverage from the “Harry Potter” series, in order to raise money for charity. 

Anthropology junior Brianna Szymanski, an officer in the club, said they choose a different cause every year and picked the United Muslim Relief Fund because it is an important cause to highlight. By raising money the fund is able to give humanitarian aid to those who need it.

The alliance sold cups of the “wizarding drink” for a dollar and donated all of the profits to the relief fund.

“With everything that is happening in the Middle East we all decided that this was a cause we wanted to promote and donate to,” Szymanski said. “[Students] are not buying butterbeer to fund our organization, the money goes to other people.”

Claire Norris, radio-television-film sophomore and member of the HPA, said they chose to work with the United Muslim Relief fund because certain attitudes toward immigrants are problematic.

“We are an organization that does a lot of philanthropy and volunteering so we fundraise for different reasons,” Norris said. “With Syrian refugees and other immigrants there isn’t usually a great reception by U.S. citizens and we want to raise money to get them necessary supplies.”

Undeclared sophomore Carina Pena supported the fundraiser and said she thinks it is important to help people from different parts of the world.

“I decided to buy some butterbeer because I love ‘Harry Potter’ and it’s a good cause,” Pena said. “The Syrian immigrant [and] refugee problem is something that affects not only Syria, but a lot of different countries and people so I think trying to help those people is important.”

Though the organization is gaining publicity by tabling and getting people to buy the butterbeer, Szymanski said that is not the goal of the sale. 

Szymanski also wants to remind people that the refugees are more than a popular hashtag.

“It’s nice that our organization is getting publicity for this, but that isn’t what we are trying to accomplish,” Szymanski said. “It’s not just a trending topic,  [refugees] are people too.”