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Friday, September 29, 2023


Professor seeks volunteers, supplies

After a week of irregular school days in light of Hurricane Ike, many students will return to their regular schedules today. For some students, however, returning to a state of normalcy may prove more difficult.

In a push to relieve these students of their hardships, Simon Bott, chemistry professor and director of undergraduate affairs and advising in the Chemistry Department, is asking students to give whatever they can – from textbooks to televisions – to assist fellow classmates.

"Students can donate pretty much anything that’s in good shape and isn’t too big," Bott said. "We’re going to have some students that need clothes and some that need food, but the big, big thing is for the students who have lost their houses or apartments."

Bott worked over the past week to organize collection zones where students can donate items such as clothing, gas cards and non-perishable food items to students, faculty and staff members in need.

From 8 a.m. to 7 p.m, starting today at the University Center Underground, Room 52, students can drop off donations, and for those seeking assistance the location will also serve as a distribution center where students can obtain assistance.

Another drop-off location will be set up from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting today at the Fleming Building, Room 136.

Drop-off locations, staffed by volunteers from the Student Alumni Connection and the Student Government Association, will be open until students no longer express the need for help.

Initially set for Friday, Bott decided to delay the launch of the donation centers until volunteer efforts at the campus point of distribution were finished to avoid volunteer efforts competing against each other.

Bott is encouraging people to donate items they don’t use anymore, such as outdated VCRs, DVDs and CDs.

"One thing that I’m imagining people need a lot of is something to do. If you have an old VCR or videotape that still works, for someone who has nothing, it’s a big deal," Bott said. "These items are just sitting around somewhere collecting dust, anyway."

Bott also said students should not hesitate to speak out if they need help.

"The biggest thing we need is for the students who need the help to be honest about coming in to ask for help," Bott said. "It’s going to be a long effort, and I’m relying on the students to call their friends and get the word out."

The University has also set up the Cougars Helping Cougars Hurricane Ike Relief Fund to benefit faculty, staff and students who have been gravely affected by Hurricane Ike. A committee made up of Bott, SGA President Sam Dike, Faculty Senate President Wynne Chin, Staff Council President Sandy Coltharp and Executive Director of Human Resources Joan Nelson will meet at 1 p.m. today at McElhinney Hall, Room 350 to determine individuals’ eligibility for receiving help and how to distribute the donations to recipients accordingly.

The Cougars Helping Cougars Hurricane Ike Relief Fund was created to offer students, faculty and staff additional help with what they need after the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the individuals’ insurance companies kick in, Bott said.

"The main purpose of the effort is to provide help for those who need in a long-term sense," Bott said.

Those who wish to donate can do so in the form of cash, checks or credit with VISA or MasterCard. University employees can make monetary donations through payroll deductions.

To donate to the relief fund, contact Director of Development Margot Frye at (713) 743-8951 or [email protected]. Those interested in volunteering at a donation drop-off location this week should contact Bott at (713) 743-2711 or [email protected].

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