In early January, a catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti, causing the most severe damage the country has ever seen. For Hobart and William Smith students Morgan Hopkins ’10, Innis Baah ’10, Gabrielle Perez ’11 and Akilah Browne ’11 the natural disaster was a call to arms to give back to the community.
“It is easy in times of crisis and tragedy to feel helpless,” said Hopkins, “but I e-mailed the people I knew who would want to help in any way they could.” This e-mail chain began to grow, as more and more people from campus added friends as well as fellow activists onto the message. Ideas were brainstormed at the end of winter break, and it was clear that upon the students’ return to campus, there would be a large group of students willing to implement relief efforts.
The first event came in the form of tabling in the Scandling Campus Center from Jan. 20 – 29. At the same time, the group organized the Hope for Haiti Dance Party during students’ first weekend back on campus. An admission fee of $2 a person and donations were accepted in the form of clothing, canned goods and toiletries. The events were a huge success and combined $1,803.25 was raised, all of which will be donated to a relief fund. At the end of the semester, when all relief events have culminated, the group will choose which group will receive the money that has been raised.
More fundraisers have been ongoing, including Open Mic Nights, selling Hope for Haiti wristbands, a Dorm Storm, and even a possible Supermarket Sweet contest. Collectively, Hopkins, Perez, Browne, and Baah represent many clubs on campus including Sankofa, Hip~NotiQs, Caribbean Student Association, and Student Movement for Real Change. They are looking to team up with other clubs in order to finish out the semester with these events.
“It was very impressive to see how quickly the campus mobilized and how the students were able to gain such a response from their fellow peers,” said Darline Polanco ’09, programming coordinator for the Office of Intercultural Affairs. “However, the repair of Haiti will not be a quick process, or a short-term issue, which is why it is the group’s goal to continue to help over the next several years.”