Upon arriving in Brooklyn, New York, just a few weeks after Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the East Coast, one volunteer described the scene as "chaos"—garbage piles, FEMA, utility trucks and the NYPD all had invaded southwestern Brooklyn, trying to bring order to where the storm had unleashed its devastating force.
Among the chaos, a group of students from Marywood had arrived, ready to lend a hand. A few days after Sandy had moved on into the Atlantic Ocean, a handful of students had already begun to coordinate relief efforts, using the Office of Campus Ministry as their command center.
"Within days after the storm, students began to contact me to ask what they could do to help," said Ann O'Brien, assistant director of service learning and community service. "We knew that as a community, we had students, faculty and staff who had some connections to the affected areas."
According to O'Brien, 78 people from the Marywood community—students, alumni, Chartwells employees, staff and faculty—have volunteered their time to help aid in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Moreover, Campus Ministry staff has coordinated six trips to New York and New Jersey since early November 2012, when the relief efforts began.
In that time, apart from volunteering, the Marywood community has also collected more than 1000 items—from cleaning supplies to canned food—for the storm victims. When asked how long the university's relief efforts will continue, O'Brien said that Campus Ministry plans on sending help for as long as help is needed.
"One of the biggest comments we get from storm victims is, 'Wow, you came all the way from Pennsylvania to help us? Thanks so much!'" O'Brien said. "There continues to be strong interest, commitment and energy from those who want to volunteer their time, and I think it is important for the university to have a presence in the affected areas."
If you are interested in donating goods or volunteering, please contact Campus Ministry.
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