Aid for Pakistan — Student organizations coordinate flood relief drive

Bridge—an interfaith leadership student organization—and five other student organizations decided to join together in organizing a flood relief drive for victims of the 2010 floods in Pakistan.

The drive, which was held Oct. 15-22, collected enough sweaters, blankets and canned food to fill a mini-van, said Chaplain Dan McQuown, director of global diversity.

“Our little college in Michigan is going to feed families and keep them warm in the winter,” McQuown said. “It shows a strength of interfaith service and a strength of the relationship between the Islamic community of Jackson and the college.”

Students involved in Bridge traveled to the Islamic Center in Jackson early in the semester. Workers at the center said anybody could help by donating canned food and water, said Sunil Yadav, Nepal junior and organizer of event.

Yadav said he brought the idea of a relief drive to a Bridge meeting. After organizing the plan with McQuown, Yadav presented the plan to Bridge and asked for help from other organizations.

Other organizations that contributed to the relief drive included the Asian Awareness Group, Student Volunteer Bureau, Alpha Phi Omega, Circle K and the Muslim Student Association as well as the Chaplain’s Office and Bridge.

McQuown said he attributes the success of the drive to student involvement, compassionate people and diverse ideas.

“I think (the college) has a group of very concerned students that are open to diversity, and they came through big time,” McQuown said.

The BBC News reported on Oct. 14 that at least 2,000 people have died and the floods have affected up to 20 million people.

According to a report completed by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), the floods, which began in July, are the largest crisis that Pakistan has ever faced. The flood left a fifth of the country flooded. The crisis affected more people than the 2004 tsunami, the Haitian earthquake and the recent earthquake in Pakistan combined.

Darlene Tan, Quezon City, Philippines senior, who visited the Islamic Center with Bridge, said most people at the center had ties to people in Pakistan.

“We felt connected,” Tan said. “People there had welcomed us so much and we learned how devastating it was and I thought we should do something.”

Students will be delivering the items to the center later this week. Yadav said the items will be directly sent to the center and then distributed to the victims through an organization in Pakistan.

“The turnout in the last three days of the drive showed much more knowledge about the catastrophe,” Yadav said. “People do care about the suffering of the people across the planet, and they do want to help.”

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