The 2017 hurricane season has been one of the most active seasons on record, with three major hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, that made landfall within three months of each other. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, these hurricanes have contributed to over 300 casualties and over $220 billion in damages.
Americans responded to the devastation of these natural disasters by donating nearly $400 million to charities. According to USA Today, $350 million went towards Hurricane Harvey relief, $45 million to Hurricane Irma and $9 million to the victims of Hurricane Maria.
The Saint Vincent College community has provided an ongoing response to these natural disasters.
Campus Ministry has been collecting donations for hurricane victims for weeks, explained Father Killian Loch, O.S.B., director of campus ministry.
“We began a collection for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, then added Irma, and are now accepting donations for Hurricane Maria. We are now collecting under the general title of Hurricane Relief,” Loch said.
Campus Ministry offered a prayer service for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on Sept. 12, and collected donations during mass on Sept. 16 and 17.
In total, about $5 million has been donated to Catholic Charities, a domestic aid organization.
On Sept. 20, Campus Ministry sent a $1,227.99 check to Catholic Charities USA.
Catholic Relief Services, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ international aid organization, has been directing donations to Catholic Charities through a link on the front page of their website.
Loch said, “The Catholic Relief Services website had a very visible link to Catholic Charities USA, and invited people to support their sister organization in these domestic disasters. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands will also be part of the Catholic Charities USA collection, while the other Caribbean Islands will be through CRS.”
CRS is committed to helping the poor and vulnerable through Catholic social and moral teachings, according to the CRS website.
Catholic Relief Services also offers an opportunity for students to become involved through their university program, which allows college students to share the CRS mission with their peers.
Student ambassadors raised awareness for donation collection by staffing tables in the Carey Center lounge following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. A collection was also taken up at the Club Fair on Sept. 6.
Campus Ministry also offered prayers for victims of Hurricane Maria during the Praise and Worship Festival on Wednesday, Oct. 4.
The Saint Vincent College women’s basketball team is also looking to help the victims of Hurricane Maria. The team is considering a service project trip to the island following Hurricane Maria. The team raised money to participate in a basketball tournament in Puerto Rico, which has been canceled due to the disaster, and are now contemplating doing relief work there instead.
Sarah Fiano, senior marketing major and member of the women’s basketball team, commented on the possibility of helping the victims of Puerto Rico.
“Coach Jimmy [Petruska] has always instilled great values into the team, and has taught us to make a difference on and off the court,” Fiano said. If we are able to go to Puerto Rico and make a change in someone’s life, that is what counts the most. I think the possibility of going to Puerto Rico to help those in need is a great idea.”
The Saint Vincent community has responded to the recent natural disasters in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico through donations, prayer, and service.
Loch explained that although an initial check has already been sent, Campus Ministry is still accepting donations for disaster relief.
Photo 1: Br. Norman Hipps, O.S.B., president of the college, and members of campus in the Mary, Mother of Wisdom Student Chapel during a prayer service for victims of natural distastes on Sept.12
Photo 2: Loch at the prayer service for victims of the recent hurricanes
Photos: SVC Flickr