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Community collects over $240,000 for victims

Lisa Schultz | Wednesday, September 21, 2005

After just 23 days of fundraising for victims of Hurricane Katrina, the Notre Dame community has raised $240,171 through collections in dorms, dining halls, stations in LaFortune Student Center and Notre Dame Stadium, among other places, the University announced Tuesday.

Notre Dame saw its own responsibility to lend a hand during a time of crisis and acted quickly, with the hope that the assistance will “deepen [victims’] hope,” University President Father John Jenkins said in a press release.

“Calamities such as the hurricane and the human misery in its wake sharply remind us whether we are victims or witnesses, we belong to one another,” Jenkins said. “We are grateful to be in a position to offer assistance to our brothers and sisters in the Gulf region.”

The total released Tuesday does not include the money collected from Masses in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and from the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore. Some student groups are still collecting, and the University will keep accepting donations throughout the semester.

A collection during the Michigan State football game Saturday raised $197,871, the release said.

Student government was responsible for coordinating student volunteers for the collection, student body president Dave Baron said.

“With a collection taken three weeks after the event, the Notre Dame family was able to come together to display what we’re capable of in terms of helping those in need,” Baron said.

Student government also coordinated all student groups, clubs, and residence halls and worked to help the different groups find resources to facilitate their own aid efforts, Baron said.

Sister Susan Dunn, rector of Lyons Hall, said sophomore Veronica Owens approached her after the hurricane hit about wanting to do something to help victims. Dunn said that the Hall Presidents Council had expressed interest in organizing fundraising events, aside from collections at dorm Masses. In response, Owens coordinated seven women of Lyons Hall to collect donations in all of the residence halls.

Sophomore Erin James was enthusiastic about helping the relief effort when Owens approached her about going door-to-door on Sept. 2.

“I wanted to go door to door because it’s the least I can do for people who need help so far away,” James said, who requested donations from every room in Welsh Family and Keough Halls.

The money collected from the door-to-door campaign totaled $4,391.02, all of which went into the general fund collected by the University.

“I think everybody at Notre Dame wants to do the right thing, but it’s the hard with these kinds of cataclysmic events,” University President Emeritus Father Edward Malloy said. “It’s easy to throw money at it, but if you’re going to be generous, which we ought to be, you have to figure out the shrewdest way.”

Funds raised by the University are being distributed among Catholic Charities USA. The charities include Holy Cross parishes in the Gulf region and regional parochial schools participating in Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education volunteer teaching program.

“There are a lot of charlatans out there and there’s ways the money can be focused in the right direction,” Malloy said. “[Distributing the money among several groups] seems like a very good thing to do.”

Malloy, who was University president during the Sept. 11 tragedy, recognized the charitable nature of the student body and expects the fundraising efforts to continue.

“I think the University’s always been a very generous place when it comes to doing our part, so I know that will continue,” he said.