UA Student's Help with aid for Harvey, Irma, Maria victims
Hurricane Irma on Sept. 7, as seen by a MODIS camera on-board Terra satellite.
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season broke records in September, producing 13 named storms. Highly powerful storms, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, have devastated U.S. states and territories alike.
In response, University of Arizona students and the Tucson community members are stepping forward with disaster relief efforts.
According to the Washington Post, the death toll in Puerto Rico has climbed to 18, while 80 percent of its agricultural land has been destroyed. The National Hurricane Center said over half of the population is currently without electricity and drinking water in this humanitarian crisis.
Taking action, three Ph.D. students, Valerie Madera-García, Nicole Colón-Carrión and Emmanuel González-Figueroa, started their own relief effort, raising money for Puerto Rico. The three students were unhappy with the amount of current aid being supplied to Puerto Rico.
“Puerto Rico is our country. All our family and friends are there suffering from this catastrophe. We still feel devastated because 3 million people do not have enough food, drinking water and electricity," Madera-García said.
The students worked with Mel and Enid Zuckerman from the UA College of Public Health and the School of Plant Sciences. With their help, $1,244 and a U-Haul full of supplies were raised.
“In these times of need, we have to come together to take care of each other,” Madera-García said. “We’re all humans. Today, Puerto Rico is in need. Tomorrow it could be any other country or even Arizona.”
In early September, the athletics department collected personal hygiene and cleaning products to be delivered to southeastern Texas. Through donations made by students and members of the community, the UA was able to fill two equipment trucks, which left to Texas Sept. 9.
Pre-business sophomore Olin Marman drove a large moving truck to Tucson to deliver donations. Marman sought a way to cross state lines with supplies as he saw donations in Tucson piling up. Marman’s GoFundMe page, Tucson to Houston, raised $1,550 to cover travel expenses.
Marman also collected specialized donation items from UA community members, bringing them to a women’s shelter in Houston.
“With Hurricane Harvey causing immeasurable amounts of damage, it is necessary to assist in the recovery effort,” Marman said. “Supplies should continue to be collected; we just need to find a way to get them to Houston.
The Greek community has also shown support with fraternity members organizing philanthropy events. UA’s Beta Theta Pi organized on the UA Mall, asking students for donations in cash or through Venmo. Beta Theta Pi’s members created signs and stood in the heat, attempting to collect as much money as possible to support Hurricane Harvey relief.
"Beta Theta Pi has numerous members from Texas and just knowing that Houston was going through such a hardship is the reason we decided to take action and make a difference," Chris Texiera, philanthropy chair of Beta Theta Pi, said.
Beta Theta Pi raised a total of $3,000 after a week of fundraising. This money was donated to the J.J. Watt foundation, which supplies drinking water, food and shelter to rescuers.
"We were very happy that we were able to help a city in need," Texiera said.
Pi Kappa Alpha’s annual philanthropy event, the PIKE Fire Fighter Challenge, was also used to benefit the relief effort. While proceeds normally go to the Tucson Fire Department, both organizations agreed to donate the money to Hurricane Harvey relief.
With an initial goal of raising $15,000, Pi Kappa Alpha held events throughout the week including an ice cream social, percentage night at No Anchovies and a parade with the TFD. In a week’s worth of fundraising, the organization raised almost $25,000.
“We just want to defy the Greek stereotype at the University of Arizona. Hopefully raising over $25,000 will show we are involved members on campus,” Ronnie Crocco, an active member of Pi Kappa Alpha, said.
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