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Don’t miss your opportunity to support UCOP’s Unite to Light drive

UCOP’s Suzanne Cross has gotten to know many of her OP colleagues through her Unite to Light campaign, a drive to send solar-powered lights to South African schoolchildren who have no electricity.

Her original goal was to purchase 200 of the lights to help children do homework after dark. But due to an overwhelming response, she has already secured donations in the amount of $4,200, enough to purchase more than 500 lights for children at several schools in Mnqobokazi, a rural community in Zululand, South Africa.

If you’re interested in supporting Cross’s effort, you can still participate. She will be selling lights again this Friday, July 26, in two locations:

  • 8 to 9 a.m. at the 20th St. Friday breakfast in conference room 302, and
  • 12 to 1 p.m. in the Franklin lobby

The idea is buy one, give one: You purchase two lights for $20, one for you, and the second one goes to the kids. Cross plans to wrap up the drive by month’s end and get the lights out to the kids in time for them to study for finals this December. Sales at the Franklin and Kaiser Friday breakfasts earlier this month were brisk.

“I have collected $2,200 in sales and donations and received a $2,000 match when I reached the $2,000 mark, for a total of $4,200,” Cross said. “But the best part is meeting and talking with OP colleagues who are happy to help donate funds to send lights. And the light itself is a bonus to own.”

If you haven’t seen the lights, check them out online in this video in the Onward California series. Better yet, purchase one of your own on Friday.

UC Santa Barbara engineer John Bowers created the light for the world’s 1.5 billion people without electricity. After learning about it through the video, Cross initiated a drive to purchase lights for kids at the Nkomo Primary School, with which she has been connected since 2002. Cross is a charitable asset administrator in UCOP’s CFO Division.

For more details, follow these links:

  • Read the July 1 Link story about Cross’s campaign.
  • Purchase lights or make donations directly at Unite To Light. Go to “Donate” or “Order” in the navigation bar and select “Mnqobokazi Community, South Africa” under “Donation Recipient.”
  • Contact Cross at or 510-987-9843 (she’s in 10323C Franklin) to make a donation or a purchase. Checks, payable to Unite to Light, are preferred. (Direct donations are tax-deductible and $20 light purchases are 50 percent tax deductible.)
  • Find out more about Nkomo Primary School through Under Four Trees, a documentary about the school Cross is working on and hopes to release later this year.
  • Learn more about Cross and her partner, John Simpson, on their Facebook page.

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