OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego students have been working hard to plan and execute relief efforts to help those severely affected by Superstorm Sandy.
Graduate student Bailey Smith, inspired by her mother and uncle who set up a collection site at Long Beach on Long Island, sought the help of her fellow students to gather a rental van-load of food, water, winter clothing, batteries, blankets and more, and drove there the weekend of Nov. 10 and 11.
“It looks like the end of the world down there,” Smith said. “I think tears ran down my face from the moment we got there until the moment we left.”
Meanwhile, the spirit of compassion spread across campus in the wake of a hurricane turned superstorm that killed more than 110 people in 10 states, with New Jersey and Downstate New York the hardest hit.
President Deborah F. Stanley sent a letter of encouragement and strength to all Oswego alumni and their families.
Sororities began efforts in the Campus Center to raise money for the storm’s victims – some of whom were families of their own members.
A fraternity organized a three-day can and food drive at a local grocery store.
And staff of the Compass student success center, Campus Life and Residence Life and Housing, as well as students and other staff, met to plan a large fundraising event for 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 5, in Sheldon Hall ballroom with prizes for those attending.
Additionally, John Halleron of the college’s Small Business Development Center plans to travel to New York City from Dec. 10 to 21 to assist small business owners in applying for disaster assistance, on the heels of efforts by the State University system’s own SBDC to provide emergency help to affected businesses.
Close to home
The storm struck home for Sigma Delta Tau, as one of the sisters lost her family home. The sorority set up a table in the Campus Center, selling small red pins of remembrance for $1.
“We decided to make it for all victims of Sandy; we called it ‘Saving Sandy Survivors,'” said Erin Walls, a senior business administration major and coordinator of the sorority’s effort.
Alpha Sigma Chi turned out dozens of sisters in red sorority T-shirts to collect contributions at an adjacent table.
“We have a lot of sisters from Downstate – at least 10,” said sorority vice president Stephanie Shannon.
Immediately after it happened, she said, they knew they had to pitch in with fundraising.
Chelsea Flores of Alpha Sigma Chi, a junior from Rockaway Park in Queens, said the devastation – from wind, water and fire – hit very close to home.
“The neighborhood is on a spit of land near Long Island,” Flores said. “We are so close to the beach, the water just went over the boardwalk and annihilated it.”
Her parents’ house had water in the basement and some damage to the front, but it was the loss of power for more than 10 days that persuaded her family to move in with a neighbor.
“Everyone in Rockaway is trying to help each other,” she said.
Another hard-hit community, Bayshore, Long Island, will receive food collected by Delta Sigma Phi fraternity at the Big M in Oswego.
“We have a lot of brothers Downstate and it’s good to know that we can help out the area that is really affected and help those whose lives have turned upside down,” said fraternity member and junior chemistry major Joseph Starr.
For Bailey Smith, it meant a lot to act on this relief effort because many people will be recovering for a long time while those who were unaffected prepare for the holidays.
“We just have to make a conscious effort to not forget about them and continue giving them assistance,” Smith said.