By Lisa Henderson
Junior Rance Robeson remembers watching basketball when the earthquake struck Haiti. It barely crossed his mind. Instead, he was upset that Kobe Bryant wasn’t playing well. Then reality set in. Haiti was in ruins.
Robeson spoke Wednesday in the BLC Theater at “Haiti: A New Beginning,” organized by Rider graduate student Danielle Holmes.
According to Holmes, the purpose of the program was “to create an outlet for students on campus who are and were directly and indirectly affected by the disaster in Haiti.”
Featured were Rider students who gave emotional testimonies describing their own experiences with family members who have suffered because of this tragedy. Speakers from the Presbyterian Church of Lawrence as well as poets and singers contributed their talents, and a presentation describing Haiti’s cultural history was displayed. Immediately following the program was a reception featuring authentic Haitian food. The program was sponsored by the Black Student Union, Rider’s Organization of Caribbean Affiliated Students and the Student Entertainment Council.
Other students have also made strides to help. Junior Eryn Porcelli of Delta Phi Epsilon (DPE) was also deeply moved when she learned what was happening to the victims of the Haitian earthquake. She came up with the idea to run a clothing drive that would allow students, faculty and anyone else to donate clothing. All of the clothing received was given to the Red Cross. A large portion of the items went to the earthquake victims, and the rest to others in need.
Porcelli placed donation boxes in many buildings across campus, including the Greek houses as well as the Student Recreation Center. Porcelli then received a call from a member of Phi Sigma Sigma and the Greek Council, Jessica Scott, who encouraged her to speak about her efforts at a “Greek 101,” an informational gathering for the Greek community, which she happily agreed to.
“It felt amazing to be able to talk about what happened in Haiti and my DPE Red Cross Clothing Drive,” Porcelli said. “By the end of the clothing drive, we collected over 40 boxes and garbage bags of donations. I am so excited that the sisters of DPE were able to work with the Rider community to make such a difference and become unified. It was such an amazing success and I really hope the next event is just as successful.”
There are still ways to contribute to earthquake relief efforts. Through the American Red Cross, people can donate by visiting www.redcross.org or by texting HAITI to 90999, which will generate a $10 donation onto one’s cell phone bill.
Holmes and Porcelli have done much to encourage unity within the Rider Community.
Haiti now faces severe devastation. Hopefully, with the assistance of more fortunate nations, Haiti will one day rebuild and prosper.
Additional reporting by Kaitlin MacRae