Class Council raises more than $500 for Puerto Rico hurricane relief effort

GW Class Council raised more than $500 to aid communities in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria at a fundraising event Tuesday.

Eighteen student organizations participated in Penny Wars, where each student group had a donation container and competed to raise money. All of the proceeds raised from the event will be donated to Unidos por Puerto Rico, an aid initiative started by Puerto Rico’s first lady to support hurricane victims, Desiree Gonzalez, media chair for Class Council’s community service committee, said.

The competition was scored on a point system that gave one point for every dollar a group raised in coins and subtracted a point for each dollar raised in cash. A donor could support a group by giving change and sabotage opponents by donating cash.

Gonzalez said she started the event because she has family in Puerto Rico and was inspired by the support she received from other Puerto Rican students on campus. The money raised will go toward rebuilding the island and purchasing needed items like canned goods and batteries for the island’s residents, she said.

“There were so many places affected by the hurricanes but Puerto Rico is actually a U.S. territory,” Gonzalez said. “We should help other people who really need it and who are related to us.”

GW TRAiLS, a student-run outdoor group, took first place with 87 points and $95 in its container, winning a free pizza party for taking the top spot.

Program Board came in second and the GW College Democrats earned honorable mention for having the largest total amount – cash and coins – in the container at the end of the competition.

Gonzalez, who helped spearhead the event, said Class Council didn’t have an official fundraising goal but the group was trying to raise as much as possible. Aside from money, the group wanted to raise awareness about the devastation in Puerto Rico, she said.

Senior Valerie Nauman, who donated to the Roosevelt Institute’s jar, said the event was a way for students groups to engage in friendly competition while also benefiting people in desperate need of help. She said donating was her way of showing that the people of Puerto Rico matter.

“There’s a lot of devastation in Puerto Rico and it’s terrible and we have botched a lot of the clean up efforts,” she said. “These are American Citizens and they deserve every bit of help that Florida and Texas received.”

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