UTPA student organizations do their part in Haiti relief efforts
Contact: Amanda Perez, Intern 381-2741
Posted: 03/24/2010
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After the wrath of the earthquake in Haiti, with unbelievable destruction and death causing sadness and pain around the world, students at The University of Texas-Pan American worked together to raise money and materials essential to the people of Haiti.

Students like Ashley Bowie and organizations such as Rotaract Club and Baptist Student Ministry (BSM), worked diligently for a greater cause. Walking down the corridors of UTPA students were witness to the fundraisers and donation drives they were being encouraged to help with.

Zaira Heredia, a UTPA junior and BSM member, advertised her organization's event to raise funds for Haiti hurricane relief.
BSM called their fundraising event "Hamburgers for Haiti." One-hundred percent of all proceeds from hamburger sales went to organizations dedicated to the service of Haiti, including The American Red Cross, The Texas Baptist Ministry and The Clinton Bush Fund.

"We saw what happened in Haiti and immediately felt it was important to help," said recent UTPA graduate and BSM leader, Martha Altamirano. "This is an important cause because it is something that affects everyone. It could happen to us and I think it's everyone's duty to help people around the world any way we can."

Junior and bible study leader for BSM, Etienne Jaime, knew they could make a difference.

"Here at BSM we work to make a difference," Jaime said. "So being able to spread awareness to students of what's going on in the world and where help is needed is important."

Other organizations, such as the Rotaract Club, an international, community service-based club on campus, hosted a canned food drive and established food donation sites across the campus for the victims of the Haiti earthquake. They worked in conjunction with Rotary Clubs from Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas, south McAllen and Edinburg.

"When I saw what happened in Haiti I became more thankful for what I have in my life," said junior Mayra Fuentes, president of the Rotaract Club. "Service has always been a huge part of my life, so when I told our officers they liked the idea. It's a small way I can give back."

On the other hand, Ashley Bowie, pre-law major and resident assistant, created her own Haiti relief project, not expecting the response she has received.

"I began my clothing and food drive thinking it would be a blessing to receive just a few things," Bowie said. "But now I am I happy to say that I have been blessed with a room full of donations. I had prayed for a miracle and I got it."

Bowie's inspiration came from her girlfriend's family who are from Haiti and were affected by the tragedy and from a 4-year-old girl whom she saw on the news.

"I remember seeing this little girl on TV who had raised money to help build a house in Haiti," Bowie said. "So I thought to myself, if this little girl can do it, why can't I?"

Bowie's drive was centralized in Unity Hall, a student living facility at UTPA. Her goal was to not only help Haiti, but to also build a community and work together to make a difference.

"I am grateful for the help I have received; my ultimate goal was to give and we have plenty," Bowie said. "As citizens it is our obligation to give to those in need."

Bowie's donations were delivered to Haiti through the Beaulah Baptist Church in Maryland and donations collected by Rotaract were sent to Veracruz, Mexico to be forwarded on to Haiti.