Haiti Relief Efforts Energize SUNY Oswego Student Volunteers

OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego students returned to campus from winter break in late January eager to give from their wallets, time and hearts to the earthquake-ravaged people of Haiti.

And a cross-campus group of students and staff proved ready to tap that spirit, generating ideas and harnessing person-power to work on plans and to immediately launch traditional table fundraising.

The campaign even has a name: “Here and Now.” “Here” stands for “Haiti Earthquake Relief Effort” and “Now” is for immediacy.

“We’re trying to do more collaboration instead of having 15 departments do their own events,” said Christina Ballesteros, president of the Student Association.

The news broke while students and many faculty were home: People by the tens of thousands died in a 7.0 magnitude earthquake Jan. 12 that devastated the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

The Caribbean Student Association at SUNY Oswego devoted its first general meeting of the semester to supporting students who had family or friends in Haiti, said Charlene Irving, the association’s president. A campus multicultural counselor attended the meeting and offered the support of the college’s Counseling Services Center.

Innumerable Haiti relief efforts sprang up on college campuses around the country, as students, faculty and staff tried to redirect intense feelings to positive contributions.

At SUNY Oswego, ideas came fast and furiously. Alyssa Amyotte, coordinator of the Center for Community Service and Service Learning, had booked tables in the hallway outside the Point — the Campus Center home of many student organizations — each day to position enthusiastic student volunteers for Haiti relief fundraising. The Oswego County chapter of the American Red Cross provided canisters with bright white and red labels.

Ballesteros, a senior from Buffalo, commissioned a T-shirt design: bright red with “I support” on the front and “Here and Now” on the back. SA is working on having the T-shirts made and ready to sell — for a modest price — as soon as possible.

Students continue to work on a number of fronts, including a Web presence and dedicating a Miss-a-Meal day to Haiti relief, Ballesteros said. When students opt to participate in Miss-a-Meal, the money they would have spent goes to a designated charity.

Two weekend men’s hockey games featured more fundraising. Students raised more than $500 at the Postdam and Plattsburgh games at SUNY the Campus Center, Ballesteros said. The Blue Line Club boosters group for Laker men’s hockey promised to donate proceeds from its 50-50 raffle at the sold-out Plattsburgh game to the Red Cross.