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Helping is "The Right Thing to Do," HU Says

Haiti Flag

Soon after the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, Hampton University began the Haitian Relief Fund to raise money and awareness for those affected. HU Student Government Association (SGA) President Matthew Washington and Miss Hampton University Nikole Churchill have helped lead the efforts.

The deadly quake spawned massive, star-studded fundraising and gift giving internationally for the island, which was already overwhelmingly impoverished and destitute. HU is also doing their part.

Hamptonians are continuing to collect money and supplies from HU students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community. In addition to the SGA, HU’s athletics department, the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Pre Alumni Caribbean Association and the student chapter of the American Red Cross, among others, are part of the fundraising effort. Fifty percent of all adult basketball game admissions fees at the Jan. 25 home game against Florida A&M University, a total of $1,076 went toward the fund. Monetary and supply collections are ongoing at the Office of Student Activities.

Washington said the HU community has taken on the charge to give back with force.

"I’ve seen tremendous support from students, campus organizations, faculty, and administrators in the Hampton University Haitian Relief Fund. I'm very happy with the vigilance and responsiveness they have shown to help others in need,” he said.

Churchill said she wants to purposely use her platform to shed light on goodwill efforts toward Haiti and elsewhere. She and Washington were part of a program in the student center last month that gave facts about Haiti and its existence in the Caribbean.

“It is so important for me to be a part of this effort, the HU Haitian Relief Fund, mainly because of my passion to help others. Being Miss Hampton allows me to use my title to encourage others to do the same,” Churchill said. “The spirit of Hampton is family oriented, and from what I've seen on campus, it’s as though the Haitians are part of our family. In actuality, they are, and I hope that this initiative to support our brothers and sisters continues with intensity and hope.”

Some of the latest reports on Haiti detail the country’s pressing dilemmas: rampant homelessness, continually corrupt governance and more orphans than places to house them. The country is, by a significant margin, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, with four out of five people living in poverty and more than half in abject poverty, according to published reports.

Helping this demographic should come naturally, Washington said.

"One of the pillars of Hampton University's student life is serving others, in any arena. Not only is it an obligation of a Hampton student to support those affected by the disaster, it's also the right thing to do,” Washington said. “Students really need to understand that the Hampton University family is made up of a myriad of cultures and ethnicities. If one member of the Hampton family is affected by this ordeal, we all are."

Students have also created a Twitter page regarding the effort, http://twitter.com/HuHaitianRelief.Those wanting to contribute to the fund can contact the HU Office of Student Activities at (757) 727.5691. Checks can be made out to “Hampton University” with a memo to “Hampton University Haitian Relief.”

-Leha Byrd