Harry Potter fans unite for a good cause


Leah Klafczynski

Graduate student Kara Whaley sits between the boxes of books her Harry Potter Alliance has collected to donate to charity.

Erin Zaranec

Harry Potter is almost guaranteed to be a household name for kids in our generation. If you haven’t read the books, you have most likely seen the movies or had some exposure to the wizarding world.

Next fall, a little piece of that magic will be coming to Kent State. Kara Whaley, a public administration graduate student, has already joined the national Harry Potter Alliance and is planning on officially bringing the group to campus next fall.

The national organization follows the motto, “The weapon we have is love,” and fights for social justice issues. According to thehpalliance.org, the Harry Potter Alliance is a non-profit organization that “takes an outside of the box approach to civic engagement by using parallels from the Harry Potter books to educate and mobile young people across the world toward issues of literacy, equality and human rights.”

There are currently chapters of the Alliance on five continents, in 17 countries and 38 states.  

Whaley discovered the group during a graduate sociology course when she was studying the sociology behind fandoms and culture. Whaley said she has always been a huge Harry Potter fan and social justice advocate and that “[the two things] just made a perfect unity.”

Although the group is not an official Kent State club, Whaley plans on opening it to the public in the fall. She is planning on being present at Blast-Off to inform students about the advocacy group.

“Some people think [fandoms are] not a very strong thing, but it connects people and people are teaming up with strangers to do all of this good,” Whaley said.

Students who are interested in the Harry Potter Alliance can assist the cause now through May 15 during the national Harry Potter Alliance book drive, which collects reading material to donate to prisons.

Eligible books will be donated to local inmate programs and books that are not eligible to enter the prison system will be donated to the Brightmoor Community Center in Detroit, Michigan. According to brightmooralliance.org, Brightmoor is “an innovative community where people, especially of modest means, can live, learn, work, commune, recreate and worship in a safe, healthy, culturally diverse and sustainable environment.”

The Alliance’s book drop-off center is located in Satterfield Hall and will take any thing from paperback novels to textbooks.

“Anything you donate, I promise it will be loved and I will find a home for it,” Whaley said.

Whaley’s group has collected 300 books so far and the national Alliance as a whole has collected 3,081 books, according to their website.   

While the drive is only running through May 15, there will be more ways to get involved with the group in the fall. Whaley said she has received positive feedback from students and community members about showing interest in the group.

“Harry Potter is still very relevant today. Kent State is a very active campus and I think a very social justice charged campus given our history. The kind of activism that groups in out in people is very Kent State and to be able to harness the passion people have for Harry Potter and how those stories have impacted people would be great.” 

Contact Erin Zaranec at [email protected].