COLUMBIA — Bundled in hats and gloves, MU freshmen Mary Angeleri and Stephanie Proffer called out to people passing by Speakers Circle to donate loose change Tuesday. They, like other church members at The Rock, were challenged last Saturday by their pastor, John Drage, to raise at least $10,000 for Haiti.
Proffer said church members hope to expand their donation efforts beyond collecting change. For example, they are planning to hold a concert Friday and to sell locally designed and printed T-shirts. To boost awareness, The Rock has created the Facebook group “Haiti Relief at Mizzou $10,000 Challenge.”
Funds up to $10,000 will be matched by a charitable foundation that donates to The Rock. That money will then be donated to Samaritan's Purse, an international relief organization.
Proffer said she has seen other Facebook groups aimed at raising money for Haiti relief. “I love that everyone is rallying to help those who are less fortunate,” she said.
The Rock’s fundraising event is one example of how university students throughout Columbia are helping Haiti. International relief organizations, such as the American Red Cross, recommend donating money as the quickest way to get aid to the people of Haiti. Some students, however, have begun to generate ideas for other ways to contribute.
After last week’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti, the death toll is estimated at 70,000 people, according to the Haitian prime minister. And those affected include students in Columbia.
Stephens College student Jasmine Johnson visited Haiti in the spring of 2009 for a mission trip and has continued to communicate via e-mail with people she met there. However, Johnson has not received replies from anyone there since the earthquake.
Wanting to help in her own way, Johnson plans to sponsor a shoe drive. The idea is for members of Overflow, a Campus Crusade for Christ chapter at Stephens, to help her collect shoes to send to Haiti. She hopes to involve MU students as well.
Columbia College has a relief program that will foster competition among the academic classes. Ben Graf, vice president of the Student Government Association, said the class officers will try to motivate their classmates to donate the most. Also, faculty and staff can donate and compete as a group against the classes. The Student Government Association will match donations up to $1,000.
“We decided to do monetary donations because the Red Cross can do more with the funds we give them than we could going out and buying things with the money we raise,” Graf said.
The officers have yet to choose a charity to give their donations to, but possibilities include the Red Cross and actor Ben Stiller’s charity, StillerStrong. They are planning to send the donations within two weeks to the chosen charity.
Students interviewed on all three campuses showed a range of responses in awareness and donation interests. While some had no desire or financial means to donate, others are hoping to help more as the opportunities unfold in Haiti.
“It’d be cool if I could physically go there,” Columbia College junior T.C. Ivory said. “Sometimes it’s about more than just throwing money at a problem.”