USF students come together for hurricane relief efforts
In partnership with the Caribbean Cultural Exchange (CCE) and the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), Student Government (SG) will lead hurricane relief efforts across campus.
The initiative began after Cherleya Carey, a senior majoring in psychology, wrote a letter to SG outlining the importance to organize relief efforts for the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian hit the islands.
“This hurricane has left hundreds without a home, lack of food and basic essential needs,” Carey wrote in the letter to SG. “As international students, we feel a deep sense of hopelessness, especially because we are miles away from home and not there to assist with this tragic event.”
The week-long drive will be collecting donations between Sept. 16-20 across different on-campus pop-up locations.
Students can drop off donations on Monday in front of the library, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; on Wednesday at Bull Market, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and on Thursday at Juniper-Poplar Hall, from 4-7 p.m.
According to the Assistant Director of Outreach and Community Affairs Zinah Haj, the donation drive will focus on collecting four main items but will accept any donations from students.
Among the items accepted are: women’s hygiene products, baby products, first aid kits and ring-pull soup cans.
“We will accept anything donated, however, at this time, we are looking into the items that have the highest demand,” Haj said. “At the end of the day, this isn’t something that anyone can do alone. This is a collaborative, student-led initiative, where SG’s role is to manage it.”
After Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas, the OMA organized relief efforts around campus and provided assistance in the donation drive.
According to the Director of OMA Stacy Pippin, SG approached the office with the vision to host a donation drive and she proposed the idea of a collaborative initiative with the CCE.
“There are countless students across campus who feel the call to do something, to give something, but also feel the pressure to do it quickly,” Pippin said. “These leaders understand the value in doing it collectively and recognize that working through the logistics and ensuring the mechanisms to transport collected supplies at mass quantity is not as easy as it sounds.”
On Sept. 6, OMA hosted Community Hour: Standing in Support & Solidarity with the Bahamas, an event featuring stress relief and solidarity activities, native music and food for students, staff and faculty with over 100 attendees.
SG is working alongside Sol Relief, a non-profit organization based in St. Pete, to distribute the donations collected throughout the drive. The non-profit was chosen based on its proximity to USF, credibility on its services and the assurance that they would deliver the items to the Bahamas, according to Haj.
Sol Relief responds to the needs in the Bahamas by partnering up with the aviation community and other non-profits to distribute the donations to the areas affected.
Logistics on how the items will be delivered to Sol Reliefs are still yet to be determined, according to Haj. As of Sept. 11, students leading the initiative will be in charge of delivering the donations to the non-profit.
“We needed to guarantee that the items that we were collecting are going to be sent out to the people of the Bahamas that need it, instead of sitting in a warehouse without a destination,” Haj said. “Sometimes people get too many donations, but they don’t have a plan of attack on how they will be delivered.”
Although the supply drive will last for a week, the Bahamians United and Impactful have plans to organize initiatives throughout the semester, including the placement of a donation bin at the College of Education to collect items, according to Carey.
“While we are collecting items throughout next week, we are also considering long-term goals on how to help the Bahamian community throughout the year,” Carey said.
“When the event happens, people are more subjected to give during the hurricane’s aftermath. However, a lot of people in the islands will still need help for a long period of time.”