After Hurricane Katrina, finding how to help

It took a few days for the effects of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation on the Gulf Coast on August 29 to sink in at Eastern, but now several campus groups are coming together to help out.

At least hundreds and possibly thousands of people were killed in New Orleans and surrounding areas, with hundreds of thousands more evacuated. The hurricane and related flooding are considered one of the nation’s worst natural disasters ever.

At Eastern, students and faculty are coming together to raise awareness of the event and money to relieve those affected by it. The SGA and the chaplain program have been leading the main student fund drive, with the Multicultural Advisory Committee and other groups organizing giving opportunities as well. University chaplain Joe Modica, coordinating the relief effort, set a university-wide goal of $10,000.

“How can we sustain our efforts, not just focus on Katrina for four weeks?” Modica asked rhetorically. “This is a long-term relief effort.”

He said the current drive for financial contributions is just the first phase of Eastern’s relief project. The second phase, now in a brainstorming stage, will be the contribution of “people resources,” when Eastern community members can actually travel to Lousiana to help rebuild.

SGA president Adam Brittin spoke at the September 7 chapel service about the hurricane. About $700 was raised in the first chapel offering for Katrina on that day. A second offering was slated for the chapel service on September 14.

The Student Activities Board’s annual Welcome Back Dance on September 10 was also used as a fundraising event. Student chaplains headed up the table for donations, said Elizabeth Porter, one of the chaplains. The money went into the general Eastern hurricane relief fund.

The eventual destination of that money has not yet been decided, Modica said.

“We’re trying to look at how, as a university, we can work with things that are already going on,” he said.

In an unrelated effort, the bookstore has been accepting hurricane-related donations as well. Along with Follett-owned campus bookstores across the country, Eastern’s store accepts donations added to transactions at the point of sale. The money will go directly to the American Red Cross, said Frank Martinez, bookstore manager.

The Eastern store does not yet have official figures of how much has been raised locally or nationally.

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