Students fashion collection drive for Harvey, Irma victims

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Students from The Audacity magazine and UT Fashion Group are hosting a collection drive to assist Hurricane Harvey and Irma victims.

Melina Perez, creative director for The Audacity, said the groups want to donate items to local organizations because they directly deliver the collected items to the shelters and victims who need them the most. Bins for the drive, which started Sept. 6 and ends Wednesday, are located in Mary E. Gearing Hall.

“If you try to donate to bigger organizations, they don’t try to really use that money to help them,” said Perez, a textiles and apparel senior. “We just thought it would be an obvious choice to start donating to Harvey (relief) because it was such a big hurricane that happened in our own state.”

Jessica Teran, a textiles and apparel senior, said she had a friend who was trapped in a building because of flooding from Harvey, which inspired the group to organize the drive.

“I was able to keep communication with him and he was sending me photos of just how devastating it all was, and I was just like, ‘There’s got to be something we can do,’” Teran said. “Later, he actually got rescued, and he stayed there working in the shelter. He was telling me how they need clothing and stuff for kids, so we just decided to put the drive together based off of that.”

Items they look to collect are blankets, plus size clothing, school supplies, small toys, books, dog food and first aid materials.

“The amount of outpour Houston has gotten so far has been a lot,” Teran said. “People were really quick to react, so we just wanted to fill the void as far as the items that weren’t necessarily already given, like clothing for people who are a little bit larger and smaller items for babies — stuff like that that was going really fast.”

Perez said the drive was originally intended to benefit Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, but they hope to expand it to provide victims of Hurricane Irma in Florida and the Caribbean with resources, as well. While the group hasn’t decided which Houston charity they will donate the items to, they plan to make the delivery in person.

“I personally have had friends who have gone down there with boats and helped rescue people, but I know that’s not something that people can easily do,” Teran said. “I think people need to be more aware of all the options to help. Locally, you can just buy food or certain items and the proceeds are going to victims that have been displaced by Hurricane Harvey.”

Athletic training freshman Zoe Young said drives are impactful because many have lost their homes and belongings as a result of the disaster.

“I’m from Houston, and I know a lot of people that had to move into churches,” Young said. “Without that, they wouldn’t have anywhere to go, and these places provide free food, clothing, shoes and anything these people need. These drives really do make a big difference.”