Hurricane Sandy, which struck the East Coast on Monday, Oct. 29, has caused approximately 100 deaths, led to hundreds of thousands losing power, and has caused countless damage to homes throughout New Jersey.
Due to the fact that Sandy caused such catastrophic damage, students have begun to ask, “What can I do to help?”
This is exactly where Here for Home comes in. Students at the College feel a strong need to aid all of the New Jersey residents that have been affected by the storm, and the College’s Here for Home campaign is devoted to providing relief efforts for the destruction that Sandy has caused.
“Here for Home is dedicated to relief efforts aiding in the state of New Jersey’s recovery,” said Stephanie Kraver, an AmeriCorps VISTA Fellow for the Bonner Center and a College alumna. “We anticipate that this will be a long process … We plan to assist families and residents of the state until they are back on their feet.”
Here for Home held its first meeting on Thursday, Nov. 1, which was co-led by Patrick Donohue, assistant provost for Community Engaged Learning Programs, and Christina Kopka, president of the Student Government, in order to coordinate the campus-wide campaign. Approximately 45 people, of which the vast majority were students, attended the meeting and were eager to help.
“(Helping) is simply the moral thing to do,” Donohue said. “When others are distressed and need a hand, you reach out to them and help lift them up.”
Currently, students, faculty and staff that are a part of Here for Home are working on various activities to aid in relief efforts.
On Saturday, Nov. 3, approximately 30 students from the College volunteered at Moody Park in Ewing to help officials and residents of the town clean up after the Hurricane.
In addition, Here for Home has started a food and materials drive with drop-off points at the Brower Student Center, Eickoff Hall and the first floor of Holman Hall. Some items that are needed are paper towels, flashlights, diapers and water bottles.
On Monday Nov. 5, students from the College traveled to Point Pleasant to help move supplies to a new location in order to prepare for another storm, this one much less severe than Sandy, that is headingtoward N.J. and N.Y.
The College has also made arrangements to provide housing for approximately 30 to 50 FEMA-AmeriCorps workers who need a base of operations for the next few weeks.
Here for Home is now a campus-wide effort that students and staff have become greatly evolved in.
“It is important to aid in relief efforts because I believe we have a responsibility for one another,” Kraver said. “Our affinities tend to be directed towards those in our immediate communities — usually family and friends. Yet, it is crucial to see ourselves as members of a larger human community, one in which others’ hardships are also our own.”
Alpha Phi Omega also held a blood drive on Monday, Nov. 5 in an effort to help. In fact, one out of every 10 hospital patients needs blood, making donations is critical.
Overall, students and Here for Home feel that helping out in wake of the storm is a necessity.
“We are all part of one community, one state, one country,” Donohue said. “New Jersey will bounce back if we all share our energies and talents.”