By Michaella Lesieur, Staff Writer
As most students spent their last week of August and beginning of September buying books, shopping for new clothes and supplies for the upcoming semester others were prepping for a storm of their life. On August 25, 2017 Texas was hit with the debilitating effects of a category 4 hurricane, going by the name of Harvey.
The nine-day disaster put the state in emergency, leading people to evacuate their homes and place their daily routines on hold. The devastating aftermath of lost homes, cars and their towns left in disarray has states, communities, celebrities and schools across the world coming together as a community to help rebuild the broken pieces.
Upon the start of the semester the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has stepped up to do their part in the rebuilding processes. MASSPIRG a non-profit student run and funded organization is doing what it takes to help return the smiles to those who were affected.
The ‘”UMass Dartmouth Cares” Hurricane Harvey fundraiser was held at the beginning of the month on Friday September 8. “We held a spare change table and encouraged students and faculty to pitch in towards relief efforts,” said MASSPIRG campus organizer Haylee Becker.”
When watching the news, one can see what the series of hurricanes have left. The news reports, pictures and social media postings are bringing the awareness to surrounding communities to educate those that we need their help.
The fact that people are without the comfort of their homes is what made Becker want to give back. “More than half a million people are homeless any given night in the United States. When a storm like Harvey displaces 30,000 more in a matter of hours, it puts into perspective how one’s life can be changed so quickly and people fall to hard times for all kinds of reasons,” explained Becker. “The US government can only relieve so much damage left behind by Harvey and it is up to all of us to pitch in and help those in need.”
Celebrities such as Sandra Bullock, Leonardo Decaprio and the Kardashian’s and local towns, communities and schools have been doing their part to pledge in rewarding amounts. Public figures such as Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres have opened up their wallets and donated, as DeGeneres pledged 50,000 to help get people back into remission.
If you are looking for ways in which you can help and donate some of your time the options are endless. Fundraising is one way that helps raise the funds that are needed. “Students and staff can hold their own fundraisers. While supplies are needed, monetary contributions are best,” said Becker. “There are all kinds of national and local organizations that are participating in relief efforts and they need resources. MASSPIRG will be holding more fundraisers as full recovery can take years and students and faculty are more than welcome to volunteer with us or stop by our events and make a contribution.”
When the UMass Dartmouth family comes together it a time of need the results show just how much students care. In three hours alone the MASSPIRG fundraiser raised $257 dollars. All proceeds raised will be donated to the Coalition for the Homeless Houston. This will cover those who were affected both before, during and after according to Becker. “Lower income families who did not have insurance or lived in low income housing will be at a higher likely hood of homelessness and the local efforts by the coalition will go a long way to provide services and move them out of homelessness.”
Hard work and devotion pays off when relief efforts call for many resources at a rapid rate. “There will be less access to lower-income housing and a large majority of FEMA relief will be benefiting families with insurance,” said Becker. “We believe that it is important to make an impact where it is most needed and organizations like the Coalition for the Homeless have been working over-time and using mass amounts of resources to assist in temporary shelter for the 30,000 displaced by Harvey as well as continue to provide aid for those who will be affected for the long run.”
Becker knows of a few people who were affected by the hurricanes happening across the world. “I have a few friends in SE Texas, who made it through ok. I also have a lot of friends in family in Florida who are still without power and dealing with the damage and aftermath of Irma,” said Becker. “This hurricane season is proving to be one of the worse in over a decade and lots of people’s lives will be affected by it for a long time to come.”
Looking into the future and the safety of those around us we have to remember to come together as a community. “We should always keep in mind that as natural disasters are increasing in severity and quantity that it is our responsibility as citizens to step up and take care of each other,” said Becker. “We should also be proactively working to prevent these severe disasters by working towards a more sustainable future. We have a responsibility to ourselves and each other.”
This is not the only time MASSPIRG has taken action and helped those that need it most. The students have partnered with other organizations on campus to raise $50,000 for tsunami relief and fundraisers for Hurricane Katrina and Rita. Furthermore, there have been trips consisting of over 50 students who have been taken down to the Gulf.
“We are always willing to step up and organize our communities to help other communities when in need,’ said Becker.
In the series of hurricanes leaving their mark in other areas of the world the past couple of weeks MASSPIRG will be contributing for relief efforts. If you would like to give back MASSPIRG will be hosting a fundraiser for those that were affected in both the United States and the Caribbean by Hurricane Irma and Jose. Please contact MASSPIRG if you would like to contribute.