Students Launch Fundraising Efforts for Hurricane Relief

Undergraduate and Graduate Students Get Involved and Give Back

In the wake of this fall's destructive hurricanes, several students took action to provide relief and support to those in need. The students ran their proposals past Deb DiCaprio, Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs, who offered guidance for the efforts.

“I felt this is a big enough cause, that it can handle several different venues for fundraising,” DiCaprio said.

Students reached out on social media to support hurricane relief efforts.

One of Marist’s initiatives was organized by student leaders, including Matt Marotti, Student Government Association (SGA) President, to support an organization that collects donations for hurricane relief and humanitarian aid.

This initiative was a collective effort among all student leaders. “A few of us met, people from SGA, including myself, people from ARCO (Appreciating Races Creating Opportunities), the Black Student Union, and people from Student Activities,” Marotti explained. “We decided that the organization we wanted to support is Heart to Heart International.”

Marist Hurricane ReliefWhen the students were considering organizations, they found that bigger charities often hold 10% of the donations for administrative expenses, while Heart to Heart International only uses 2% of its donations for this purpose. “We thought that was awesome,” Marotti said. The students were able to set up a page on the Heart to Heart International website specifically for donations from the Marist Community. Currently, the Marist community has contributed $1,130 in donations.

Marotti explained that one of the most important parts of the initiative stems from Marist’s Mission Statement. ”Anybody who’s part of the Marist Community, whether it’s students, faculty, staff, the administration, or friends or family members of anyone who goes here- everyone should know that a big part of Marist’s mission is service,” he said. “That’s the foundation of this cause.”

The students in the Physician Assistant (PA) graduate program also organized on-campus efforts to collect supplies for those in need. According to Kathleen Lill, the PA Program Director, the program has a separate student government body that aims to incorporate community service projects during the students’ 24 months in the program.

The PA students brought the Children’s Medical Group’s “Stuff the Truck” initiative to campus. The Children’s Medical Group is a local pediatric practice with eight different clinical sites throughout the area, where many students are participating in fieldwork. “They’re supporting our students by offering them clinical rotations,” Lill said. “So this was a way, the students felt, to give back a little bit to support their hurricane relief efforts.”

PA graduate students contribute to hurricane relief efforts. Photo by Navneet Kiran Kaur.

The students helped “stuff” the truck last week and, according to Lill, the students are working with Brother Michael Flanigan to see if there are other community service opportunities in which they can engage.

In addition to the students’ desire to aid those in the affected areas, over 250 students are either from these areas or have family there. According to Marotti, this was the even greater reason for why students decided to engage in the hurricane relief efforts.

Additionally, DiCaprio reached out to the students who have family in Puerto Rico, offering support. Many faculty and staff, who have family in Puerto Rico, also reached out to DiCaprio to offer assistance. According to its website, Heart to Heart International is currently working to provide humanitarian aid to Puerto Rico.

“I think we have an obligation, certainly to any of our students who are going through tough times for whatever reason,” DiCaprio said. “When we have these kinds of disasters strike, we just have to be aware of the fact that we may have some of our students who either live there or have loved ones and relatives who live there.”

According to DiCaprio, in addition to this year’s hurricane relief efforts, every year Marist puts significant effort into community service initiatives, primarily locally. Some of these initiatives include Hunger Month, the Giving Tree, and Relay for Life.

“Our community, for its size, gives a tremendous amount of money, and it is heartwarming to know that when these kinds of things impact people who they don’t even know, [the students] are the ones that want to do something,” DiCaprio said. “I’m not telling them to do this; they’re coming to me. I just think that speaks very highly of our students, of the college, of our mission- it’s very gratifying to work with students like that.”

Written by Nicole Benedetto '18

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