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Hurricane drives fundraising, frustration

Katie Perry | Tuesday, September 6, 2005

The nation may be in discord regarding the federal government’s response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but Notre Dame student leaders focused on harmony Monday, unifying their efforts to provide aid to victims of the disaster.

Student government members and representatives from various student organizations convened in a forum to organize and combine independent hurricane relief efforts into a single, University-wide strategy.

Student body vice president Lizzi Shappell said the main goal of the meeting was to unify student efforts.

“We don’t want to compete against each other for donations,” she said.

Shappell said students are welcome to conduct individual relief efforts until Thursday, Sept. 15. After this date, however, all personal and organizational initiatives should be redirected toward the University-sponsored stadium collection slated for the Michigan State home football game on Sept. 17.

Student Union secretary Aly Baumgartner said the University was seeking a substantial number of student volunteers to assist in the collection of money during the football home opener.

“We are looking for 300 to 450 students to help out during the Michigan State game,” she said. “We have 100 right now.”

Baumgartner said volunteers will have a “dress rehearsal” the morning of the game to go over logistics for the mass collection. Money will be collected from spectators in between the first and second quarters.

“They did this [type of collaborative effort] right after Sept. 11, and they raised about $280,000 – we’re hoping this will be as successful,” Baumgartner said.

Money donated to Notre Dame’s Hurricane Katrina collection account will be dispersed into three main organizations. Shappell said Catholic Charities USA will receive 50 percent of the funds, while the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Louisiana and members of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) in devastated areas will each receive 25 percent of all money raised through the University.

There are 25 ACE instructors in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, ACE director John Staud told The Observer Tuesday.

In addition to money donated through the stadium collection, individual organizations and groups on campus are fervently fundraising to aid hurricane victims.

Masses held this week at both the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and in each of the residence halls will serve as opportunities for students to donate money to the University’s main collection fund.

A representative from the Center for Social Concerns unveiled additional relief plans at Monday’s forum, including a solidarity luncheon fundraiser for Gulf Coast victims and an educational conference to discuss future implications of the hurricane.

Shappell said the student government opened a collection table on the first floor of LaFortune Monday to ensure students a constant opportunity to donate money to the University’s main fund through Sept. 15. The table will be available for donations from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

Student government will not be collecting clothing and other supplies, Shappell said. However, student groups are encouraged to organize these drives independently and send those efforts to the appropriate charities.