The Texas Blazers wrapped up their week-long Drive to Provide initiative on Friday, which collected donations and raised awareness for Austin-area refugees.
Each semester the Blazers, an all-male UT organization centered on service, spirit and leadership, inducts new members into its organization. The inductees, or New Guys, are tasked with building a service project from the ground up. This semester’s new inductees wanted to use their project to promote the ideals of inclusiveness and open-mindedness.
Miguel Martinez, a New Guy and a management information systems junior, said that the Blazers have raised nearly $4,000 through their Cheap Lunch, held Nov. 7 through Nov. 11, and their GoFundMe page.
“The cheap lunch was a way for us to reach out to donors here at UT, where the GoFundMe page is good for people outside of the Austin community who still want to be involved,” Martinez said.
For the second half of their new member project, the Drive to Provide, the Blazers drove to different donors’ locations to pick up items such as food, toiletries and children’s books.
“We called people ahead of time and would load their donations in the back of a truck,” said Ross Miglin, mechanical engineering junior and New Guy. “It was especially fun whenever we had people from other spirit groups or people who are affiliated with UT. We’d take a picture and post it on the Facebook event page and people could see their friends or people they recognized donating.”
Neuroscience senior Connor Breen facilitated the logistics of the service project and said the donations from the Cheap Lunch, Drive to Provide and the GoFundMe page will benefit Austin’s branch of Refugee Services of Texas and Caritas, two organizations that aim to assist refugees in Austin.
“The actual items are being given to Caritas because they have a structure that’s pretty sound for distributing items to refugees in the Austin area,” Breen said. “And then we’re giving the majority of our proceeds, monetary funds, to RST.”
Biochemistry and humanities sophomore Mohammad Syed, a New Guy, said besides the money and the donations, the Blazers want to raise awareness on campus that refugees are living in Austin and there are many ways to help them.
“A big part that we want to promote is that these aren’t the only means to helping out refugees,” Syed said. “People within our organization have taken orientation sessions so we can actually go and interact with refugees. We also want students to become aware of opportunities to help these individuals. Oftentimes we say ‘refugees’ with a blanket statement and we don’t understand who those individuals are.”