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Student to begin tent, tarp collection for Haiti

Amanda Gray | Wednesday, February 17, 2010

As a Boy Scout, freshman Matthew Kudija was taught to give back to others. Now that he’s older, Kudija is using what he learned to make a difference internationally by collecting tents for Haiti.

“It has the potential to really provide some much-needed assistance to the people of Haiti,” Kudija said. “In the period between the immediate relief and the more permanent rebuilding, they need shelter.”

Kudija hopes to begin collecting tents and tarps as early as next week, after he gains approval from Student Activities.

Kudija decided to start the collection after reading a news article in which Haiti Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive requested shelter for his country.

“[The article] highlighted the need for tents and the Prime Minister specifically requested donations from the world for tents to help shelter the people there,” Kudija said.

Kudija said his background in the Boy Scouts is what led him to this decision.

“I’m a Boy Scout, so my first reaction was that the [Boy Scouts of America] has access to a lot of tents and could get them there easily and that Notre Dame’s connections in Haiti could help get them there quickly,” Kudija said. “Today, they’re asking for tarps now. When we start collecting we’ll ask for both.”

 Kudija is working with Circle K, a social service club on campus, and the Student Alumni Association, but he said he is still waiting for Student Activities Office approval.

“I talked to Risk Management and they said they’re fine with the whole plan,” Kudija said.

“It still needs to be approved officially through Student Activities. When that gets actually approved, we can start collecting on campus.”

“We’re trying to get more students involved with the project now that we’re at the point where we can start doing stuff,” Kudija said. “It will be helpful to have more people involved with the actual collecting.”

Kudija is working with several local Boy Scout troops to begin collecting.

“I’m working with the Boy Scout district in the South Bend area to collect tents in their units,” Kudija said. “There’s a facility just south of campus that we may be using to store tents in.”

Kudija said if his tent and tarp collection is successful on a campus and local level, he would like to see the drive go national through the Boy Scouts of America network.

“There are two aspects that I’m working on — the local South Bend area and the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America to work on a wide-scale effort,” Kudija said.
Kudija said the biggest challenge is finding transportation for the tents and tarps to and from Haiti.

“I know there’s a lot of guys here that are former or current members of the Boy Scouts of America, and they could contact their local units back home could help move stuff on the national scale,” he said.

Those who wish to donate tents, time or transportation can contact Kudija at mkudija@nd.edu. Monetary donations are not currently accepted.