Several student organizations banded together this weekend to gather food and clothing for Haitians affected by Hurricanes Fay, Gustav and Ike as well as Tropical Storm Hanna.
The GW Saves Initiative, a collaboration between the Black Men’s Initiative, Caribbean Student Association and Black Student Union, set out to raise awareness about the urgency of the situation. After a speaker from Haiti came to the CSA’s first general body meeting, group leaders said their members wanted to take immediate action on campus.
“From that meeting the effort began and it snowballed three weeks later into a University-wide supported initiative that produced over 60 boxes worth of clothes and food,” said Sean Williams, a member of the Black Men’s Initiative.
Nearly 150 volunteers participated in a “dorm storm,” where the students knocked on residence hall doors on both campuses to collect donations and raise awareness. The GW Saves Effort will send the donations to the Pan American Development Foundation, which will distribute the goods to individuals in Haiti, among other affected areas.
With three hurricanes and one tropical storm hitting Haiti in the past month, at least one million out of the nine million people living in the country have been affected, according to the Associated Press. Though U.N. relief supplies are making it to the country, officials say mass hunger is possible since the storms wiped out the crops and destroyed the irrigation and pump systems.
Sophomore Ryan Mitchell, membership director of the BSU, said they had an overwhelming response.
“I was surprised by how willing Thurston residents were to give and help in any way possible,” Mitchell said. He added, “They were very friendly and in the end my team left with two cartloads full of food from Campbell’s soup to cereal to granola bars.”
Residents of the Mount Vernon Campus were just as generous, said sophomore Samuel Collins Jr., who led the dorm storm group to Mount Vernon.
“Many of them gave new articles of clothing in several occasions and some even gave up some new food they had bought the day before,” Collins said.
The volunteers have also set up boxes for donations at the Multicultural Student Services Center, Student Activities Center and throughout the Marvin Center.
“The GW Saves Haiti relief effort was a huge success,” said junior Kyle Boyer, Student Association Executive Vice President.
He added, “Not only did it show the generosity of our community, it demonstrated an outpouring of support that will help make many lives a little bit better.”