“Whatever We Can Do to Help”

Since the 0.7 earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, worldwide aid has jumped to provide food distribution and medical supplies, among other things, to the victims affected by the devastation. Here at USF, student clubs and organizations have taken a dive into the relief efforts as well.

A little over two weeks following the earthquake, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. turned what was meant to be a welcome-back ice cream social for the USF community into a “Help for Haiti” relief event. “We wanted to make sure that [the social] had a meaning to it, and so since the whole Haiti disaster happened, we decided that we would have a fundraiser drive for money,” said Aalishah Abdallah-Richardson, a member of the sorority.

Apart from money donations, their Jan. 28 event on the first week of school also invited guests to donate canned food and clothing. The event raised $250 and three boxes worth of donated clothes and shoes, as well as about 20 cans of canned food. “The canned food and clothes, we actually gave them to the University Ministry because we knew that they were actually doing something to collect them,” Abdallah-Richardson said. Money donations were given to the Red Cross.

Abdallah-Richardson said that Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a public service sorority, focused on “five pragmatic threads.” One thread is international awareness and involvement.  “Usually we wouldn’t just have a social, it would be a social with something attached to it that’s being drawn upon from one of our five pragmatic threads,” she said. In trying to connect the social with a worldwide crisis, the Haiti disaster was naturally the first thing that came to mind, she said. “Our national organization also sent out a message to all of our chapters letting us know to do something for Haiti, whatever it may be, whatever we can do to help, so that’s what we came up with.”

Around the same week that Delta Sigma Theta Sorority held their “Help for Haiti” ice cream social, two St. Ignatius Institute students took interest in organizing a drive. Sophomores Anna Tull and Kalie Patterson forwarded their idea to Stephen Gotfredson, the St. Ignatius floor resident minister. After discussing possible fundraisers, Tull, Patterson, and Gotfredson came up with the idea to host a bingo benefit for Haiti on Friday, Feb. 26. The event will also hold a raffle and an auction to drive donations. The event will take place in the McLaren Complex.

Since then, ASUSF Senate, the Black Student Union, the Not For Sale club, the University Ministry, and the St. Ignatius Parish contacted the St. Ignatius Institute to climb on board with the event, Gotfredson said. “The law school as well is interested. It’s kind of all over campus and people just want to help out.”

Gotfredson said they hope to attract over 300 students, faculty, staff, and friends. Their ultimate goal is to raise $10,000 in donations, which would then be donated to the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS).  JRS is an international organization that provides financial and human resources around the world, including relief efforts in Haiti.

Gleeson Library is also donating funds through JRS. Until Friday, Feb. 12, 100 percent of student library fines paid online or in-person will go towards the people of Haiti.

“It is tragic what happened in Haiti,” Gotfredson said. “I feel especially disheartened from the catastrophe knowing that there are hundreds of other communities in this world that share in Haiti’s poverty and vulnerability to devastation.”

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