In the first week of the semester St. Lawrence students have already raised funds for the people of Haiti.
The massive earthquake that struck the country, one of the poorest and least developed in the world, affected three million people. “There will be tens of thousands of casualties- we don’t have any exact numbers,” said United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on NBC’s “Today” program. Nearly half of the homes in the Port-au-Prince were destroyed and the people are desperate for shelter, food, and first aid supplies. Every fundraising effort makes a difference.
Dr. Simpore, a professor at St. Lawrence, said “It is a great thing to see people getting involved to being relief to a country.” However, he challenges students to “stop and ask what’s going on.” Haiti, like the country of Guinea in Africa, challenged French occupation throughout history and has had to pay the consequences. It has been independent for 200 years, but people showed little interest in the country before the earthquake. Now with all the attention and reconstruction plans there will be lots of changes. “Haiti will not be the same as it used to be,” said Simpore.
Last Thursday, the Black Student Union held a karaoke event at Pub 56 to raise money. “Karaoke for Haiti” lasted for three hours. Students paid $5 for one song, $10 for three, and $50 for unlimited songs with club registration. “The Black Student Union really took a lot of their personal time to make this event a success, especially with the short time frame we were dealing with. It was a great success and all of the students and faculty who were there had a blast!” said Dzifa Yador ’11.
One hundred percent of the $304.50 they raised was sent to Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund, a reputable organization started by celebrity Wycelf Jean. President Fox and Dean Toliver pledged an additional $175 and Rance Davis and Dean Lehr will be writing checks on behalf of their departments as well. “Though I don’t know the grand total yet, this is more than what the BSU expected to raise and we are happy that the administration has helped us in our endeavors. The people of Haiti are even more appreciative of everyone who took time out to donate and to sing for this cause!” said Yador.
The Panhellenic Council, an organization comprised of members from each of the four female fraternities on campus, also took the initiative to help with the “Panhellenic Dorm Storm for Haiti.” Starting last Wednesday, members visited residence halls around campus to collect money to donate to Haiti. “We raised so much money! People donated at every door that we went to. We raised way more than we were expecting,” said Quinn Delahanty ’11. Council members also wore purple Panhel t-shirts to class last Monday, welcoming donations of any size.
Beta is making the effort as well by asking each Greek House to contribute $200 to send to an organization that is helping with assistance in Haiti.
Students have also participated in the American Red Cross’ “Text 2HELP” initiative. Many have made $10 donations to the American Red Cross Haiti Relief and Development fund by texting “HAITI” to 90999. Donations appear on monthly cell phone bills.
Fundraising is vital for reconstruction in Haiti, but Simpore said that it is important to “follow how the money will be used.” He said, “Money will not be the only thing that will help rebuild the country. Beyond money, they need training. Training is the best way to help and it will help them to take care of themselves.”
The initiative St. Lawrence students have shown in the first week back from break to help the Haitian people is impressive. The stress of new classes and the adjustment to the bitter Canton cold did not hinder Laurentians’ ability to think of others in a time of need. Although Haiti has suffered an immense tragedy, Simpore illustrated the situation with a French proverb: “In some situations, hope can be found in some struggle.”