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Raising funds for a fallen country

Jan. 21, 2010

Baylor students rally support for Haiti

Associated Press
Haitians leave Port-au-Prince by boat Wednesday. With the city left in ruins after last week's deadly earthquake, many of the displaced people are leaving town and traveling to stay with relatives in outlying towns.

By Bethany Moore
Staff Writer

Students have overwhelmingly responded to the earthquake in Haiti by organizing four ways to help with the relief effort.

Different departments, organizations and classes have found ways that Baylor can do its part right from campus.

During the three Chapel services Wednesday, students were invited to donate to Haiti in paint cans that were stationed at each exit. After the services were over, the chaplains found that the students donated more than $5,000.

Ryan Richardson, associate chaplain and director for worship, said it is rare for chapel to ask students for an offering.

In certain instances such as Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 tsunami that struck Indonesia, when money is the best thing students can give, they will do just that.

"I've been moved by the students' response," Richardson said. "This is a big group of people all gathered in the name of Christ, and this has been a faith issue for them."

Baylor decided collectively that it would help with a relief organization that is already set up in Haiti, and therefore will be sending the money to the Red Cross.

"There isn't a penny that won't go to Haiti," Richardson said. "There are no administrative costs on our end or within the Red Cross, so all $5,000 will go to Haiti."

Richardson also said that he hopes students will keep the donation paint cans out in the foyer so students can still have the opportunity to give.

Chapel is not the only opportunity for students.

Students in Dr. Steven Bradley's social entrepreneurship and economic development class are collecting donations to send over water filters, so Haitians will have clean water.

It is part of a company called Just Water, which plans to send enhanced filters to third-world countries all over the world to help with water purification.

Students and others have already raised enough money for Just Water to send more than 5,000 filters to Haiti.

"We were working with Just Water long-term for the class when Haiti happened," said Bradley, an assistant professor of management. "Here we were talking about poverty, and that day in class the students felt that we should do something so we decided to donate to them."

Bradley said it's not the biggest thing they can do, but living in Waco, it's one way the students can help.

Journalism students have also begun to pool their resources for relief by giving the shirt off their backs. Katy senior Alex Abdallah is heading up the program called "The Shirt Off Your Back," which asks students to donate their used T-shirts to help those in Haiti.

"We've seen an amazing response from the students," Abdallah said.

"We're thinking about setting up drop boxes in other locations on campus so that other students, besides journalism, can get involved."

Carol Perry, lecturer of journalism and a faculty aide to Abdallah's efforts, said this is a way students can help since they can't be there physically.

"After three to four weeks the Haitians are going to need support for everyday life, but we can't do that either," Perry said.

"But we can help them in that stage by giving the shirt off our back."T-shirt donations will be taken for the next three weeks to a month and are currently accepted in room 255 of the Castellaw Communications Center.

Student government is working to help one of Waco's own organizations, which works closely in missions with Haiti: Mission Waco.

For the next week, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Bill Daniel Student Center, an information booth is accepting donations that will go to Mission Waco.

Since the booth has been set up, student body president Jordan Hannah said they have collected more than $1,000.

"We hope that by partnering with a local group, we can help them, not only now with Haiti, but in their long-term efforts there," Hannah said.

"With their water wells and by supporting a child, we can build a continuous relationship with Mission Waco and their goals."

Hannah also said students who are interested in helping should talk with Student Activities.