The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College are teaming up with institutions throughout Ohio and stepping up to do their part and show support for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. The effort to rally students from Ohio’s 52 independent colleges to raise $5,000 for their fellow students in Texas is being led by Otterbein University and the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO). Dena Warren, dean of students, said Rio’s students are eager to help surpass the goal.
“Even before we learned about this initiative, students were coming in and telling us they wanted to help those affected by the hurricane. I think what stands out in this initiative is that strong student to student connection even from states away,” Warren said. “This is a way we, as a community in Southeastern Ohio, can reach out and help those who have been devastated by the flooding in Texas.”
Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the coast of Southeast Texas August 25. The Category 4 storm caused catastrophic flooding with winds reaching 130 mph. Rio President Michelle Johnston said she encourages students, staff and community members to join the effort to bring relief to students in the Houston area.
“I am so glad our community is joining in this effort because at Rio, we are all family. We look out for one another. It’s wonderful to see our campus take that sense of family and share it with students in Texas who need support right now. Many of us cannot even begin to imagine how much they have lost during this tragic event,” Johnston said. “We encourage our students to get involved in their communities, but to see them going above and beyond to help complete strangers in another state when they need it most makes me very proud.”
AICUO and Otterbein University are challenging students around the state to extend their kindness and support to their Texas counterparts who are suffering the loss of personal property. As every penny counts, one way to donate is to determine the value of something important in day-to-day living and then consider making an online cash donation via a Go Fund Me account in that amount to help a Texas student replace something they’ve lost in their residence halls, off-campus apartments or homes. Warren said she believes in this initiative because she feels it is important for institutions to help each other recover when disasters occur.
“Everyone across the country is banding together for relief efforts and it’s important for higher education institutions to remember the colleges and students affected. They have lost school supplies, textbooks, personal belongings and in some cases everything. Even if it’s easier to donate and send items like clothes, shampoo or other toiletries, I believe everyone should do what they can because we need to be empathetic when tragedies like this occur,” Warren said. “This is a reflection of service above self and the responsibility to look out for one another. I’m so glad our students here at Rio want to carry that idea with them beyond campus and our community and make a difference to those who need their help no matter where they are.”
Warren said every gift, no matter its size, matters and she encourages students, employees and community members to give what they can and ask friends and family to do the same. Gifts can be made at www.gofundme.com/kindness-matters-ohio-students-helping-texas-students. For more information about Ohio to Texas donations, contact Dena Warren at 740-245-7396.