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       Send story and noteworthy ideas to Jessica Reyes, jmreyes@widener.edu.

      In Times of Need

      Widener Students Help Victims of Natural Disasters

      nursing students

      Student Nurses’ Association

      The Widener University Student Nurses’ Association collected items to send to Hurricane Harvey victims and is hosting a blood drive.

      As hurricanes flooded Texas and Florida, earthquakes shook Mexico, and wildfires burned in the west, the Widener University community has stepped up to provide disaster relief.

      Collections and baked good fundraisers have popped up on campus as student organizations coordinate to help in light of these devastating natural disasters.

      Donate Your Passion

      After Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, student leaders in the Widener University Student Nursing Association wanted to act. They've been collecting monetary donations and goods to send to a Texas church whose pastor will collect and distribute the items to those in need.

      The drive – called "Donate Your Passion" – encourages the entire campus to drop off shampoo, conditioner, men's toiletry items, feminine products, baby wipes, dog food and more to boxes set up in the lobby of Founders Hall. Money can also be placed under the door of the third floor WUSNA room.

      Kayla Smith, a junior nursing major and WUSNA community service chair, said the donation drive has been a success. She and other nursing students have itemized, packaged and shipped donations to Texas and plan to continue doing so, especially in light of other natural disasters that occurred after Hurricane Harvey.

      "Widener, as a community, is big on donating and helping out with disasters both locally and globally," Smith said. "We want people to donate whatever they are passionate about."

      Social Work Bake Sale

      Students in Social Work 440, a senior level course, also felt compelled to act after the hurricanes. The classmates held a bake sale during the busy lunch rush hour at University Center and raised over $200 for the Houston Food Bank.

      "We want to send to the Houston Food Bank because they said the money donations are better than clothing or food," said Julie Heydeman, a senior social work and psychology major. "It's easier to turn money into what they need."

      University-wide Collaboration

      To coordinate student efforts across campus, the Office of Civic Engagement hosted two "WU Activate: Disaster Relief Conversations" in September. At the sessions, students learned tips for disaster relief and brainstormed ideas for how to raise money.

      During the second session, students agreed that they would like to raise money to support All Hands Volunteer, a nonprofit, volunteer-powered disaster relief organization, and started planning fundraising events for all year.

      The Office of Civic Engagement offered the following tips for being proactive with disaster relief efforts:

      • Understand what is needed – Do not donate goods unless it is expressed by the community that they are needed.
      • Donate to trusted relief organizations – Make sure the organization that you are donating either money or goods to is a reputable one.
      • Do research on the community affected – Make sure that you are donating the right supplies to the community that was affected by the natural disaster.
      • Sign up before you show up – If you want to go and volunteer, do not just show up without signing up to help out so you can be utilized.

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