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Student groups collaborate to fundraise for Puerto Rico relief

Mackenzie Clark
Managing Editor

As a member of a community as small as The College of Wooster, it can be easy to feel powerless in the face of global tragedies. Recently, though, sorority Zeta Phi Gamma, Proyecto Latino and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) came together to show the importance of collaboration and the impact that small colleges can have on the global community.

On Friday Dec. 1, Zeta Phi Gamma, Proyecto Latino and the CDI hosted a fundraising event in Scot Lanes to benefit hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20, 2017 left the majority of the island without power, water, communications and access to food.

“We as a group wanted to put on an event that would be open to all of campus and incorporate more people outside of Greek Life,” said Heather Lockhart-Neff ’18, president of Zeta Phi Gamma. “We decided to involve both CDI and Proyecto because of the success of previous events hosted by both organizations and their individual missions. We also wanted to draw attention to the little amount of federal funding that has been given to the relief efforts for Puerto Rico and be able to bring a more diverse group of causes to our service focus.”

Proyecto Latino was eager to collaborate with Zeta Phi Gamma on this event.

“Puerto Rico is part of the Latinx community, and as an organization we desire to bring cultural, social and educational awareness to our fellow students about the Latinx community. A fundraiser to help Puerto Rico is definitely up the alley of Proyecto’s mission,” said Carlos Mejia ’19, co-president of Proyecto Latino.

During the fundraiser, students donated five dollars to participate and were able to bowl and compete in a trivia competition featuring questions about the politics and history of Puerto Rico. Winners of the events won a meal with Dean of Students Scott Brown, Associate Dean of Students Ashley Benson, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Carolyn Buxton or President Sarah Bolton.

This fundraiser was also one of the final events to be held in Scot Lanes before it closed for remodelling. Tolly Colby ’20, Zeta Phi Gamma’s service chair, worked closely with Nancy Garzon ’18, who is a member of Zeta Phi Gamma, Proyecto Latino and an employee of Scot Lanes, to help secure the space for the event.

“Nancy suggested we utilize the space one last time before it closes at the end of this semester. We also know how beloved Scot Lanes has been in the past and wanted to incorporate this into our event as it is a common space for the whole Wooster community.” said Lockhart-Neff.

“I have been working at Scot Lanes for [over two] years now, and it will always hold a special place in my heart,” said Garzon.

“For me, [this event was] not about Scot Lanes closing, but about helping Puerto Rico with anything that we can. Sometimes we feel helpless and think that because we are far away, we can’t do anything to help those in need, but by creating a small event like that, we are at least helping feed one more person,” she said.

Colby noted that the fundraiser was not as monetarily successful as the group had originally hoped, however both Zeta Phi Gamma and Proyecto Latino are looking forward to future opportunities to hold similar events.

“We intend to host more educational fundraising events in the future in order to raise more awareness and funds to help shed light on important and relevant causes. We are planning to host at least one campus wide service event each semester,” said Colby.

Nate Addington, the director of civic and social responsibility with CDI, wants to encourage more student groups to take initiative with community service and fundraising.

“It is my sincere hope that many more events like this start to happen, and not just for Puerto Rico,” said Addington. “My hope is that the various student organizations, clubs and groups start to build a culture of engagement off of the campus. I applaud these groups for taking the initiative to work together and, more importantly, to work for others.”

Proceeds from this event went to the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Disaster Relief and Recovery Program, which was created in response to Hurricane Maria to serve the immediate and long-term needs of families and communities in Puerto Rico by coordinating donation drives and distribution of essentials and emergency relief aid. To make a donation, visit https://hispanicfederation.org/unidos/.

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