The USF community came together last Friday night at Poleng Lounge for a fundraiser to support 10 students left homeless after a fire ravaged their apartment building on Baker and Golden Gate Ave. on Jan. 23.
The fundraiser attracted a large crowd of students and recent alumni, including many close friends of the fire victims who were popular around campus in part for the well-known parties they hosted at their Baker St. apartment. There was no cover charge for the Poleng event, but guests were asked to donate $5-$10, and a portion of the bar sales also went to the victims. One of the victims, Mark Wong, said that while the total amount of money raised was not yet known, he was grateful for the support shown by his classmates.
One hundred and eleven guests RSVP’d to the event on Facebook and one student, Neal Rafferty, commented “Wow, this is the first time the USF community came together and helped out, it makes me happy to go to USF.” Other students expressed similar gratitude for the compassion shown by the community. Junior Enrique Zabala said that while he did not know any of the fire victims personally, he had been to parties at their house before and was happy to help out.
All of the Baker St. apartment residents have relocated, and eight of them are now living together in an apartment on the west side of campus. Wong said the roommates found the apartment on Craigslist and are adjusting to their new setting. However, he said that the fire destroyed nearly all of their possessions and they are without furniture or other basic conveniences. Proceeds from the Poleng fundraiser will be used to purchase couches and a table, he said.
“We’re trying to get back on our feet, we have everything moved in but are trying to juggle the school life with Ikea trips,” Wong said. “We got a microwave last week, that was a big deal.”