USAO Reaches Out to Hurricane Victims

Friday, August 26, 2005


CHICKASHA -- Energized by gripping media pictures of hurricane victims, and with memories still vivid of Oklahoma’s weather tragedies, three key campus leadership groups at USAO -- faculty, staff and student associations -- have joined to raise money and support for victims of hurricane Katrina.


A $250 gift from the USAO Staff Association started the ball rolling on Thursday, as various student organizations joined the campaign to help hurricane victims. Students and faculty from USAO wanted to do more than just donate cash gifts, though.

A group is currently planning a trip toward the Gulf Coast in October to assist with cleanup, Student Services Director David Mayes announced Friday.


“The victims of this terrible tragedy are not so far away,” said USAO President John Feaver. “Some of our faculty, staff and students have family members who have been displaced in Mississippi and Louisiana. Our hearts go out to the victims there and here. As we have seen with every major tragedy affecting America in recent years, Oklahomans have huge hearts and are willing to help despite their own financial limitations. I applaud our students, faculty and staff for their energy and compassion.”


Faculty members were to assistant students on Friday with plans for aid. “Our students feel deeply the pain of this tragedy,” said Dr. Tina Winn, associate professor of Psychology. “In yesterday’s meeting of the Psychology Club, students were ready and mapping a plan to help. Our group will be working with others to raise funds.”


To accommodate the swell of sympathy and generosity, school officials at the University of Science and Arts created a new fund yesterday.


“The USAO Disaster Relief Fund will serve as a clearinghouse for gifts to help hurricane victims,” said Mike Coponiti, chief financial officer. “Gifts can be delivered to any of the affiliate student, staff and faculty organizations, or can be carried directly to the business office window in Troutt Hall. Cash gifts will go, as directed by the decision of these groups, to the American Red Cross.”


The hands-on outreach being developed by Student Services at USAO is still in planning stages, said Mayes on Friday. “Students and faculty are ready to help, but the people who are traveling south with food and water already have found huge obstacles and impossible traffic. We want to help those who want to help the victims, so our effort is scheduled during fall break, Oct. 20-23.” A partial list of the student groups conducting their own campaigns includes the Student Government Association’s Volunteer Action Council, the Psychology Club, the Art Club and the Baptist Student Union.


As a third initiative, USAO will work with the Canadian Valley Technology Center to collect food and other items for delivery to the Gulf Coast by Feed the Children. Feed the Children is asking for the following items: ready-to-eat foods and snacks, bottled water, batteries and flashlights, new blankets, juice and beverages, personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, paper products, tarps and rain gear, and buckets and plastic containers.


Donations for Feed the Children will be accepted at several locations across campus through Wednesday. There will be drop boxes at the information desk on the second floor of Trout hall, public relations office on the first floor of Trout and room 109 in Austin Hall.


This isn’t the first time USAO has aided victims of a natural disaster. Six years ago, the school acted through the USAO Foundation to provide more than $15,000 in assistance to victims of the 1999 tornadoes in central Oklahoma. That disaster left 17 members of the student body and faculty at USAO without homes or with significant storm damage. These were commuters whose homes were in Moore, Bridge Creek and south Oklahoma City.