Marquette Wire

MU student reaches out to Sandy’s victims

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For thousands of people throughout northeastern U.S., the effects of Superstorm Sandy continue to wreak havoc through food shortages, dismantled power lines and chaos in the region’s public transportation systems.

Charles Michael, an Illinois native and junior in the College of Communication, began the “I Help NY” relief fund to raise money for victims of the storm a few state lines away.

Michael created a Tumblr site of the same name to motivate his community to raise money for the American Red Cross in its effort to promote awareness of the damages caused by Sandy.

“Although I do not have any family members or friends who were affected, there are people who are struggling with deaths and destruction who need our help,” Michael said. “I wanted to take a stand and raise money (for the American Red Cross) to help out with the recovery and influence others to do the same.”

So far, Michael says he has raised $130 toward his $500 goal. Working with other Evans Scholars, students who receive a specialized scholarship and housing based on their work as caddies and on meeting other educational requirements, Michael promoted the cause in the Alumni Memorial Union last week to garner donations from other students.

Evans Scholar Shane Sweeney, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, said Sandy’s effects were so shocking that he felt helping with fundraising was the least he could do.

“It’s a good way of fundraising because instead of having to send in all of your information and possibly credit card numbers, you just give a couple of bucks without giving your information,” Sweeney said. “People like that option.”

Sweeney added that victims of Sandy are most in need of electricity and confidence that all will turn out well.

Damiana Lepore, a junior at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, said the city and surrounding areas are in an especially dire situation as basic resources such as water have not been adequately supplied.

“Many people were waiting in line for a fire hydrant to collect water,” Lepore said. “At every fire hydrant there were at least five people.”

Lepore added that while Sandy may physically be long gone, the damage the storm left behind can be seen everywhere.

“Now that almost everyone has power back, New York seems normal even though it’s not,” Lepore said. “Subways are still closed, and people’s apartments are damaged.”

In addition to the numerous infrastructural problems the city is facing, Michael said victims are also in need of food and shelter.

“Most of the New Jersey coast is completely destroyed,” Michael said. “There is tons of damage in the New York subways, and several streets have over-flooded, causing debris to collect. These areas need to be cleaned up and rebuilt.”

Michael said Tim Cigelske, a media specialist in the College of Communication, helped raise awareness for the fund through Marquette’s Facebook page and Twitter account.

While the process of rebuilding is a lengthy one, Lepore said she appreciated efforts like “I Help NY” and other students’ interest in caring for her city.

“I hope through time New York City will be fixed, but at this point we still need help,” Lepore said.

Those interested in donating money to “I Help NY” should visit www.ihelpny.tumblr.com or follow #ihelpny on Twitter.

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