Campus helps out fire victims

    The recent wildfires that swept through San Diego County caused thousands to evacuate and hundreds of others to lose their homes permanently. While the UCSD campus was not harmed by any of the fires, students around campus found ways to aid those directly affected by the disaster.

    Victor Ha/Guardian
    Caring: Eleanor Roosevelt College freshman Jessica Mann (right), who organized UCSD Community Cares in response to the fires, collects donations on Library Walk.

    With the campus closed from Oct. 27 to Oct. 29, many students found themselves with extra time on their hands to help local organizations and evacuation centers for victims of the fire.

    A group of students living at Revelle College organized a meeting on Oct. 28 in an effort to find out a way to help the community. During that meeting, the students formed UCSD Community Cares, a group working to help the victims of the wildfire.

    The group set up a table on Library Walk on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31, collecting both monetary donations and other items such as soap, shampoo and other necessities.

    The collection will be extended throughout the week of Nov. 3. Donations could also be turned in to A.S. Volunteer Connection office, Round Table Pizza and at the various dining halls on campus.

    “”We realized how severe these fires actually were and that they were actually coming close, and that houses were being destroyed and crumbled by these fires,”” said Eleanor Roosevelt College freshman Jessica Mann, founder of UCSD Community Cares. “”Everyone around me was thinking about what to do ‹ there was no school ‹ and so we gathered a meeting.””

    In its two days of requesting for donations, the group has collected over $3,000 in addition to collecting items varying from toys, food and clothes.

    According to Mann, UCSD Community Cares was able to fill four vehicles with donated items that were then turned in to St. Gregory Church at Scripps Ranch.

    “”I feel very fortunate to be part of the UCSD community,”” Mann said. “”I’ve never experienced anything like this in high school. I’m realizing that people out there really do care; they want to communicate and they want to help.””

    Many more students wanted to help those that lost their homes to the fire, but were not sure how to do so.

    After hearing news of the damages of the fire, some quickly organized collections for the Red Cross and St. Vincent de Paul, a center collecting non-perishable foods and other donations.

    For some students from the Thurgood Marshall College Residence Halls, one way to help fire victims was by collecting donations from their neighbors.

    On Oct. 27, Marshall sophomores Marissa Palin and Wendy Dryden, along with other residents from V Building, walked through all the residence halls, some of the apartments and other places at Eleanor Roosevelt College knocking on students’ doors and asking for donations.

    “”We wanted to go help out at a shelter but we looked into it and found out that we couldn’t, that they really didn’t want people just to show up, unless you can commit for seven days,”” Dryden said. “”We figured the best thing we could do is donate money.””

    Joining Dryden and Palin through the residence halls were several others that were playing the drums, strumming a guitar and singing songs for the campus residents. For some of those helping out with the collection, the situation brought back some memories of previous encounters with natural disasters.

    “”I grew up in Oakland, and I was there for the Oakland Hills Fire, and I know a lot of people were going through that, and so I kind of feel for these people here,”” said Marshall College freshman Simon Olivieri, who joined Palin and Dryden with their collection.

    In the two to three-and-a-half hours of their door-to-door collection, Palin and Dryden’s group ended up with about $570, which they turned in to the Red Cross.

    “”It was pretty amazing. Some people were really helpful but some weren’t,”” Palin said. “”I think most people were pretty eager to help. I think there were a lot of people that were affected by [the fires].””

    A group of students from International House were also able to gather donations from people around the campus community.

    On Oct. 26, about 40 international students gathered to find ways of assisting people that lost their homes or were evacuated due to the fires.

    For some that could commit several days of service, attending a Red Cross volunteer training session was one way to help the community.

    But due to an overflow of volunteers, the group of UCSD volunteers was turned away from the evacuation shelters. This group, however, was still able to help when they found several homeless people in downtown San Diego looking for food.

    “”It was a really neat experience,”” said Joshua Wortman, an ERC student senior and one of the organizers from the International House. “”In a time of disaster, it seems many people have forgotten the homeless people of our city, and that’s how we helped during this time. It was kind of an unexpected twist, but that’s where it went.””

    In addition, several other student organizations also set up their own collection to show their support for the victims of the fire. Service group Still Thoughts Association and the Hillel of San Diego also set up booths in Library Walk in an effort to raise money for the Red Cross.

    “”Some of our own members live near the disaster area,”” Still Thoughts Association secretary Johnson Yen said. “”We kind of saw the tragedy up close, and so we felt like we wanted to do something about it. We needed to help these people.””

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