Student groups help Puerto Rico victims

Olivia Higgins | Staff Photographer
Students staff a table for the Todos Juntos initiative which is raising money to be sent to victims of Hurricane Maria in PR. So far, over $2,000 have been raised for the U.S. island.

Sairah Aslam | Staff Writer

10/12/17

Student groups across Duquesne, spearheaded by the Latin American Student Association, have raised more than $2,000 for the victims of Hurricane Maria that struck Puerto Rico in late September.

At Duquesne, the community quickly launched a fundraiser to alleviate some of the island’s burden. The initiative has been dubbed Todos Juntos, Spanish for “All Together.”

The Duquesne community has largely united.

“LASA, MSA, Duquesne Democrats, the fraternity Phi Kappa Theta, a ton of Puerto Rican students, the women’s tennis team and some Puerto Rican professors [are all involved],” according to Heidi Shellenberger, president of the Latin American Student Association, which spearheaded Todos Juntos.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, many Puerto Rican students in LASA had advocated for a fundraiser to help support the island. Then the emails began to flood in from various organizations on campus offering their encouragement and assistance in collaborating with the club.

The LASA leadership approached Jeff Mallory, head of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and asked for help organizing a larger initiative than had originally been planned.

Mallory helped set up an online donation portal and assisted LASA in networking with the other organizations.

“ODI really played a very small role. Student needs and wishes and wants are of paramount importance to this office, so when we got the chance to assist with this initiative…it meant a lot to us,” Mallory said.

“Todos Juntos is a testament to the students’ organizational skills, their desire to give back to the world … it is humbling to see them in action,” he said.

The program has certainly made significant strides. Tabling has raised approximately $2,000 and online crowdfunding has solicited a similar figure: $2,355. As a result, a definitive end date of the initiative is not in sight.

“The interest shown in Todos Juntos has been inspirational,” Mallory said.

The students agree; the fundraiser, they say, has had a singularly unifying effect.

“It’s not even that they’re Latino or that Puerto Rico is an American territory. The fact is that they’re in need, we can help, and so we’ve all come together to do that,” Shellenberger said.

Though the tabling component of Todos Juntos may soon conclude, students, faculty, staff, alumni and administrators have been and can continue to donate personal care supplies to the women’s tennis team and money through Duquesne’s online crowdfunding portal.

 

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