One Shuttle-UM bus parked outside Stamp will carry more than just student-passengers on Friday — it’ll deliver a week’s worth of donated items to Hurricane Sandy relief.
Department of Transportation Services employees will collect critical items, including batteries, flashlights, school and cleaning supplies, blankets and first-aid kits this week inside a Shuttle-UM bus situated in front of Stamp Student Union from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day through Friday, according to Beverly Malone, DOTS’ assistant director. The project, a joint effort with Dining Services, University Relations and the athletic department, allows the university community to demonstrate its value and helpfulness during times of crisis, said full-time Shuttle-UM driver Walter Michaca.
“It shows the university’s ability to conquer something together — there’s a sense of community,” he said. “It doesn’t matter that this isn’t happening in our backyard, either. We can raise awareness right here.”
The departments will either leave the donations at a nearby Red Cross check-point or have DOTS drivers drive the bus up to the New York and New Jersey area, Malone said, a decision officials will make at the end of the week. Malone said the Red Cross is in desperate need of baby and children’s supplies, but because many college students don’t have such items lying around, other items are welcome contributions. Officials are not encouraging students to donate clothing, though, according to a DOTS flier.
While the storm’s impact was milder than expected in this area, many people in its direct path felt its devastating effects. Sophomore psychology major Lili Notovitz said her family in Great Neck, N.Y., just had its power restored Sunday after living with no heat, refrigerator or Internet since the storm hit two weeks ago.
“My cousin’s entire house burned down after Sandy created some electrical issues,” Notovitz added. “They could definitely benefit from donations like this.”
For each donation, individuals will receive a coupon from Dining Services and the athletic department for free popcorn at the Nov. 20 Terrapins men’s basketball game versus Lafayette. Although student tickets to the game are free, the coupon will also be good for a $15 discount on regular price tickets to the game, which are $20.
DOTS has publicized the relief project in a number of areas, Malone said, including on its website and in dorms, as has the athletic department. University Relations will be contacting alumni for donations as well.
Shuttle-UM drivers Michaca and Adrian Fonseca will spend the week manning the bus and collecting donations. The exchange of donations for coupons and discounts will be an effective way to help both the relief effort and turnout at the basketball game, Fonseca said.
“We’re getting donations, and at the same time, people get discounts,” he said. “The more visitors at the game, the better business will be, so both parties benefit.”
Sophomore English major Brigette Fine said she appreciated the university’s efforts to help those in need with the project.
“I think it’s a fantastic effort,” she said. “Getting gas in Queens has become near impossible for my aunt and uncle, so they’ve resorted to walking a long ways to their grocery store.”
Fine’s family has been hoping for things to return to normal for quite some time, she said.
“This relief effort will not only help to ease some of the burden on people living in those areas,” she said, “but it will show people that they’re not alone in their struggles and that the rest of us are willing to step up and lend a hand.”