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Giving Back gears up for annual fund-raiser

English-teaching charity Giving Back is running its annual fund-raiser in Itaewon next week.

The Jan. 31 event will feature live bands and a raffle, and the money raised will help fund classes for underprivileged children run by the group’s Korean and expat volunteers.

Barry Smith, who volunteers for the charity and is married to Giving Back founder Yvette Jeong-hwa Park, said that the group had grown over the years and now has five classes in Seoul and one in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province.

The Yangju classes were started recently by a Korean teacher in the area who had traveled to Seoul to volunteer. She has joined some other Korean volunteers to set up a class there.

Smith said that a sizeable portion of the funds raised at the event would go to support the Yangju classes, as the children there were particularly disadvantaged.

“It’s not very easy to find native speakers there, but she’s a good teacher so they can still benefit a lot from them,” he said.

The group also organizes events for the children, such as Halloween and Christmas parties.

According to Smith, Giving Back had intended to run two fund-raisers but last year’s event attracted nearly 200 people and raised nearly 3 million won ($2,800), which was enough to run the classes in combination with donations from elsewhere.

One large donation has come from Compass Media, which donated 10 million won worth of books last year. Other donations come from overseas, with one regular donor from Denmark even traveling to visit the children.

A slightly more unusual donation came from Indonesia in the form of signed copies of K-pop group AOA’s “Like a Cat,” some of which will be raffled off at the event.

Performances on the night will come from a traditional Irish band, soloist Dara Shean, Maggie and Jeremy, and Skizzo, an American who raps in Korean.

Smith added that the group is looking for experienced teachers to replace some native speakers who are leaving Korea when their contracts expire in March. The classes run on Wednesday evenings.

Giving Back is also seeking donations of prizes for the raffle at the fund-raiser.

The event begins at 5 p.m. at the Bull & Barrel in Itaewon. Admission is 10,000 won. For more information, see Giving Back Korea’s Facebook page

By Paul Kerry (