Ike donations still available

Stockpiles of food, clothes, stuffed animals and board games fill Room 52 at the University Center Underground. What used to be the space of the Copy Center has now been transformed into a distribution center for Hurricane Ike victims seeking relief.

"One student who came in had her roof caved in and her whole apartment was flooded. She lost everything. She just needed something to wear for a couple of days and some food to get by," said Activities Advisor and distribution site volunteer Kristen Salo. "She said she was probably coming back because she was so overwhelmed with everything else that she just got what she needed right now."

The distribution and donation center was organized by Simon Bott, chemistry professor and director of undergraduate affairs and advising in the Chemistry Department, as an effort to aid students that have become destitute in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

The donation center launched on Monday to take donations on items such as clothing, gas cards, non-perishable food items, board games and VHS movies. Since then, Bott said the center has received numerous articles of clothing, four television sets, one VCR and 20 boxes of textbooks from the Athletics Department. The items that were collected amounted to more than 25 pick up trucks worth of materials.

Though this week was namely focused on collecting items from the campus community, relief materials were given to 43 students, faculty and staff members. Bott said next week would be geared toward getting the donations out to more people. For now, they want the students that were affected by the storm to come in, express what they need, and collect the items that were already donated.

"It’s a pretty good success in terms of donations, the way the community responded to giving stuff, but it’s not really going to be a success until students come and ask for help," Bott said. "They just have to come in and let go of their shame. We’ve only had 43 people so far, and I won’t be happy until we help at least 300."

He said he has made arrangements so that when students drop classes because of Hurricane-related problems, they will receive a message about the relief center.

Along with donations, the centers have also attracted many volunteers from the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and donations from students and alumni. Business senior Jeremiah Bailey said he heard about the volunteer opportunity through an e-mail sent by NSCS.

"We catch people as they walk by and kind of tell them about the relief effort," Bailey said. "We tell them a little about the center, and how it’s for the Hurricane Ike victims and we ask for donations."

The distribution center will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Room 52, University Center Underground and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 136, Fleming Building. Both centers will continue to operate until all students who have been affect by Hurricane Ike have been accommodated. Bott urges any student that needs help to contact him as soon as possible. Once all of these students are helped, Bott will make sure that these items are sent to GoodWill or a point of distribution in Galveston.

For more information on donating and volunteering for these centers, contact Simon Bott at [email protected].

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