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Katrina collection is a success

Pat Dowd | Monday, September 19, 2005

Preliminary estimates for the amount of money raised by the Katrina Collection at this weekend’s home game against Michigan State put the total in the realm of $197,000. While this estimate falls considerably short of the collection’s hope to match the $270,000 raised at Notre Dame Stadium after Sept. 11, 2001, it constitutes only a portion of the many efforts the University is undertaking as part of its long-term commitment to communal rehabilitation in the Gulf region.

Student government, dorms and clubs across campus have held several fundraisers, and many alumni from around the country have entrusted their donations in good faith to the University. The money raised in these cases will be added to the greater University fund along with the stadium collection.

Student body president Dave Baron said he was pleased with the stadium collection performance and the high level of donations from fans at the game.

“$200,000 is a fine amount that is going to help a lot of people,” he said.

The Katrina Collection can also be deemed a success in that it encouraged awareness, something that will surely pay dividends in the future as students look for ways to serve, organizers said.

Aly Baumgartner, student coordinator of the stadium collection, said she was inspired by the solidarity shown among students for hurricane victims at the game.

“The volunteers were amazing,” she said.

Jean Ann Linney, vice president and associate provost, has taken the task of coordinating the University’s many initiatives for aiding the affected region. She is especially involved in the University’s efforts to accommodate students who were displaced by the hurricane.

“[Notre Dame has] offered ‘visiting student status’ to law school students and graduate students, and on a more limited scale to undergraduate students who already had a pre-existing relationship with the University,” Linney said.

But because of the school’s residential structure and enrollment levels, Notre Dame has said it has no spare housing for undergraduates on campus. However, the University has been exploring the possibility of students staying in dorms at Saint Mary’s.

The real challenge for administrators like Linney is to devise a system for displaced students that allows them to attend Notre Dame without creating a financial burden.

“[In the long term] what [the University] will most likely do is mobilize both financial and person-powered resources,” Linney said.

While the University’s contributions towards relief efforts will be dived among Catholic Charities USA (50 percent), Alliance for Catholic Education (25 percent) and Holy Cross Missions in the affected areas (25 percent), the University is currently examining how to best establish effective involvement on a personal level.

Many students and members of the Notre Dame family have expressed a desire to travel to the Gulf region to actively help in rehabilitation efforts.

Bill Purcell – who with Director of the Center for Social Concern Father William Lies is spearheading relief efforts at the Center for Social Concerns – speaks daily with the social action director for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Purcell said “there is no way students can be accepted as early as October break,” as the resources to house volunteers are currently nonexistent. However, the possibility of service trips over winter break is being taken into consideration, he said.

Purcell also said it is important to think of the school’s commitment not as a “one hit wonder,” but as a sustained effort of community rebuilding to take place over the next three to five years.