Thanks to a semester-long series of initiatives by the students, staff, and faculty of Ithaca College, the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund has been enriched by a total of $44,000 to help the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. President Peggy R. Williams announced the successful completion of the fund-raising campaign-which exceeded the original goal of $35,000-at a hurricane benefit concert on campus on November 7.
"Although they occurred many miles away, the natural disasters that devastated the Gulf Coast have touched us all in many ways," Williams said. "In fulfilling the spirit of the College's mission statement to share the responsibilities of citizenship and service here and in the global community, the students, staff, and faculty have responded with compassion by undertaking a wide array of programs to lend our support."
The most prominent of the initiatives was the "Strive to Give $5" campaign. Organized in September by the Ithaca College chapter of the American Red Cross, the African-Latino Society, and other student groups, the effort aimed to get every member of the campus community to donate at least $5.00 to hurricane relief, which the College agreed to match on a dollar-for-dollar basis. In order to help employees with their donations, the College made payroll deduction available. They were also given the option of donating a day of accrued vacation time, which was converted to the appropriate dollar amount. Thirty-nine employees participated in this effort, which raised $9,200. In addition, the College allowed up to two weeks of paid leave for those employees who were interested in being directly involved in official relief service.
Hurricane fund-raising benefits this fall have included a storytelling session by a New Orleans resident who rode out Katrina; a concert featuring several local bands, dance troupes, and vocal ensembles; a jazz concert featuring School of Music faculty members, alumni, and community musicians; a special program of songs and scenes from popular works performed by students and faculty from the Department of Theatre Arts; and an auction supported by campus groups and local merchants. Another example of cooperation from local businesses was "Commons Cause," in which local restaurant owners worked with student groups to donate a percentage of proceeds from a designated night. Collection tables and individual gifts also supported the relief efforts.
Ithaca College also provided assistance by opening its doors to children of alumni and any New York State resident enrolled at an institution in the area devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The affected students who enrolled at Ithaca College were assisted in their academic transitions by the Offices of Financial Aid, Residential Life, the Registrar, and the Bursar as well as the Hammond Health Center and the dean's office in the appropriate school. In addition to waiving its late registration fee for these students, the College placed them in classes that will transfer to the home colleges and provided financial aid to those in need as well personal support services from the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life.
"The contributions of Ithaca College to our hurricane relief efforts are greatly appreciated," says Chuck Nocera, executive director of the Tompkins County chapter of the American Red Cross. "I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the students, staff, and faculty at Ithaca College."
For more information, contact Deb Mohlenhoff, coordinator of community service and leadership development, at (607) 274-3222 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Michael McGreevey, executive assistant to the president, at (607) 274-3121 or email@example.com.