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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Dodging balls for Japan relief

Students raised money for Japanese relief efforts by playing dodgeball at an event hosted by the Student Program Board. | Marie Munoz/The Daily Cougar

Since the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan on March 11, UH students have been organizing fundraisers and food and supply drives to help with relief efforts.

The Student Program Board held the Dodgeball for Japan relief drive on Monday at the MAC Room of the Wellness and Recreation Center.

Participants who brought donations such as clothing, utensils and other household goods had the opportunity to play a game of dodgeball.

Robert Garcia, computer science freshman and the head of the SPB trips and tournaments committee, organized the game.

Garcia said the event’s humanitarian goals were an important reason for its inception.

“The disaster happened, and we tried to think of ways we could help out. So we thought of dodgeball. It’s an active sport, and it builds camaraderie and community, and we come closer as a University,” Garcia said. “The disaster left nearly 2 million people homeless. We have to do our part to help out.”

Just weeks after the tsunami, #TweetDrive4Japan, a national fundraising effort through Twitter inspired UH students Raquel Gonzalez and Aysha Soomro to organize the Houston arm of the effort, which took place March 30.

The two students spent four days setting up the logistics of the event, which benefited the disaster relief efforts of Save the Children.

“Japan was hit by one of the largest earthquakes to date, and seeing the devastation it caused so many people, many of them children, really pressed us to help out in any way that we could,” Soomro said.

This was not the first time that either student, both studying public relations, had helped with a fundraiser.

Soomro had assisted with a fundraiser for StandUp For Kids, a nonprofit organization aimed at preventing the homelessness of at-risk youth. Gonzales has helped with a fundraiser for the American Red Cross.

UH organizations, like the Student Government Association, CoogPatrol and the Public Relations Student Society of America helped with getting the word out.

UH’s American Marketing Association also helped spread the word, as well as provide event t-shirts, which were sold for $10, and all proceeds benefited Save the Children.

Save the Children is not only helping in monetary form, but has also set up housing in Japan for displaced children and families, said Soomro, who encouraged students to continue to help in relief efforts.

“Students can continue to donate to Save the Children online or any organization tied to providing disaster relief to Japan,” she said. “Any amount helps.”

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