A man walks past a pile of donated water at a relief center set up in a parking lot on November 3, 2012 in the Midland Beach neighborhood of Staten Island borough of New York City.
After Hurricane Sandy nearly destroyed her home in Long Beach, N.Y., American University senior Jacqui Schlossberg decided to take action for disaster relief.
Schlossberg will host a fundraiser open to students and locals this evening at Z-Burger, a burger joint located in the Washington, D.C. neighborhood Tenleytown. The restaurant will donate 20% of the proceeds to the American Red Cross.
“I felt that I was the perfect person to put together this fundraiser, as I was one of the kids at AU who was really impacted by Sandy,” Schlossberg said. “My family lost most of their home, both cars and right now my dad is looking for alternative housing for my mom and my two cats.”
Schlossberg noted that while there are no specific financial goals, she hopes “people will come together to help out friends and peers.”
Like Schlossberg, students and colleges across the nation are working to assist in relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy.
The storm, which swept the Northeast last week, caused an estimated $50 billion in damages, USA TODAY reported. Some residents of New York and New Jersey are still without power as of Wednesday morning.
Several businesses, big and small, have also stepped up to aid those who have been left without power, heat and water, USA TODAY reported Sunday.
For example, fitness centers have allowed hurricane victims to use facility showers. Duracell brought charging stations for phones and devices to Battery Park, a public park in Manhattan, in addition to providing victims with free batteries for flashlights.
Meanwhile, colleges have been hosting fundraising events to raise money for relief organizations such as the Red Cross.
Experts like Keith Tidball, Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension disaster education program director, recommend donations of cash over items such as clothing or food.
“It’s very difficult to fly the right supplies to the right place at the right time,” Tidball said. “Cash donations go directly to where they’re needed most.”
North Carolina State University’s Center for Student Leadership, Ethics and Public Service has been fundraising since the hurricane struck last week, especially at the school’s homecoming events, said Mike Giancola, the school’s associate vice provost of student leadership and engagement.
“We had a series of high-profile events scheduled already, so we’re using those events to encourage the campus community to get involved and make donations,” Giancola said.
In many cases, though, students have taken their own initiative.
State University of New York (SUNY) Binghamton’s Habitat for Humanity chapter and the school’s Tau Alpha Upsilon fraternity will host an all-you-can-eat pancake fundraising event this evening. All proceeds will go toward Sandy relief efforts.
Over at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the American Red Cross Club has sponsored a fundraiser on campus throughout the week in addition to hosting a shelter simulation to teach students about staying overnight in a shelter during natural disasters, the club’s co-president and UI junior Kelsey Fitzpatrick said.
Still, donating blood is just as important as donating money, said Steven Cain, Purdue Extension Disaster Education Network homeland security project director.
“Donating blood is always needed,” he said. “The bottom line is, you don’t know whose life you’ll save by donating blood.”
While some schools are fundraising from far away, those schools that were greatly affected by the storm — particularly those in New York and New Jersey — have been assisting in disaster relief, too.
SUNY Maritime in Throggs Neck, N.Y., has served as a staging area for as many as 600 relief and recovery workers in the last week, providing them with food, shelter and safety, according to the school’s website.
And the City University of New York (CUNY) has created the CUNY Community Hurricane Sandy Relief Council, which aims to coordinate volunteer and funding activities to assist members of the CUNY community who have experienced personal losses or property damage, according to a CUNY statement.
Cain recommends that students visit the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) website, a coalition of U.S. disaster-relief organizations, to learn about how they can get more involved in disaster relief.
And Tidball noted that the little things, like wishing communities well through social media, are just as important.
“The sense that people aren’t forgetting about your plight, the sense that young people care, is one way that people really do make a difference,” Tidball said.
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