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Community fundraises for Haiti earthquake victims

Alexis Redeemer, Aya Fawakhiri and Miriam Adamec-Ostlund help Haiti earthquake victims by selling Class of 2012 t-shirts to raise money and awareness. (Elissa Benes).
Alexis Redeemer, Aya Fawakhiri and Miriam Adamec-Ostlund help Haiti earthquake victims by selling Class of 2012 t-shirts to raise money and awareness. (Elissa Benes)

Since the beginning of the semester, students have been planning events to help those affected by last month’s earthquake in Haiti.

One of the first events was held by the Class of 2012, and was organized by class president Alexis Redeemer. Redeemer headed up the fundraiser along with three other 2012 Council members: Vice President Krysten Lange, Treasurer Pernian Faheem and Historian Kalisi Kupu. The group sold their class t-shirts for $15 with five percent of each sale going to Doctors Without Borders, an organization that sends doctors to countries in crisis.

On Feb. 4, Mills honored the more 230,000 lives lost with a candlelight vigil organized by Erika Macs, the Director of Spiritual and Religious life. She said she wanted to give the campus community a space to grieve and look for hope in the midst of tragedy.

“The vigil was created in part out of response from students who said they hoped there would be a vigil for the people of Haiti. It was one part of the campus’ response to the crisis in Haiti, and others will still be forthcoming from the Office of Student Life as well as the Office of Residential Life, among other things folks within our community are doing,” Macs said.

Director for Student Diversity Programs Sabrina Kwist recited the poem “Each of us has a name” in the Chapel.

President Janet Holmgren also attended the vigil to pay her respects.

“It is a terrible when human tragedy reminds us that we are linked together and we need to stand together, and I am proud of Mills for stepping up as always,” Holmgren said.

The vigil was one way that students at Mills expressed their sorrow and sympathies. For first-year Christine Iyoha, it was the best medium for her to offer her prayers and wishes as Haiti gets back on its feet.

“The vigil was simple, sweet and thoughtful. I liked it a lot. Haiti is a strong country. If it were any place else, I would be more worried,” she said. “Many people, like myself, have a huge love for the people of Haiti, and the vigil was the perfect way for me to celebrate the strength of Haiti. It’s a tragedy, no doubt, but there is still hope. There’s always hope.”

Another event being planned is the “Heart For Haiti” movie series, first held on Feb. 7. The second movie will be shown Feb. 21.

“There is a $5 suggested donation fee. All proceeds are going to Heifer International which is an organization for assistance and resource development in third world nations. They are trying to raise three million for ongoing short-term and long-term relief in the Haitian region,” said first year Rebecca Freeman, who is the main student organizing the campaign.

According to Student Activities Director Courtney Young-Law, Heifer International was chosen because “They have a long-term plan for Haiti and are about empowering people for a sustainable economy.”

The non-profit organization assists agricultural development by sending farm animals to developing countries like Haiti to be used as food.

The group has watched “Sleepless In Seattle,” and in the next film event will show “Casablanca,” “Sixteen Candles,” or “Grease.”

Contributed by Elissa Benes and Morgan Ross