Working Together for Hurricane Relief

January, 2006

Photo courtesy of Zox

Several student groups at PSU came together to organize two fundraising events for Gulf Hurricane relief in October, aided by several groups from the town of Plymouth, including the Board of Selectmen and the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce.

Ironically, severe rain and high winds forced the October 16 daytime event from the Plymouth Common indoors to the HUB. Local musician and Plymouth State staff member Audrey Drake, and Lakes Region musicians Adam Weston and Chris Stevens performed while Sodexho, PSU’s dining contractor, served New Orleans-inspired food to all who gave a minimum suggested donation or more to hurricane relief. The food was donated by Sodexho and Chris Mongeon, general manager of dining services at PSU, was instrumental in obtaining help with publicity from the Chamber of Commerce.

Speakers included New Orleans poet and community activist Kalamu ya Salaam, who shared his own poetry and stories he has collected from other people who were displaced by the hurricanes. He has received national and regional awards for poetry, play writing, literary criticism and radio production.

That evening, the band Zox headlined a benefit concert, with Junction 18 opening. Proceeds from both events, totaling more than $1,500, went to Habitat for Humanity.

Rodney Ekstrom, program advisor for the Hartman Union, explains that the benefit event was inspired by Jenny Near, of Moultonboro, N.H., who was to be a senior at Tulane University in New Orleans this fall. She and several PSU students approached Ekstrom with the idea for the benefit. Student groups such as PACE, the Spring Fling committee, PSU Volunteers and the campus radio station WPCR, as well as many students not affiliated with an organization, were all looking for a way to help. These events gave them the opportunity to work together on a single project.

Meanwhile, United Campus Ministry and Catholic Campus Ministry organized a collection of bedding and emergency kits to send to hurricane victims. Several dozen bedding sets and over 150 kits were sent in two shipments: the first to the United Methodist Committee on Relief to be distributed through a center in Alabama, and the second a few weeks later to be distributed through Church World Service throughout the affected areas.—Marcia L. Santore

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