The Help for Harvey drive is making a final push for donations before the Sept. 29 end of the crusade to assist Hurricane Harvey victims.
In partnership with Central Texas Food Bank, the drive is a collaborative effort of multiple organizations and departments across campus, namely the Division of Student Affairs, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Student Government and Senate of College Councils. The drive is collecting items at 30 different areas around campus.
“We are serving clients who are affected by the hurricane, whether they have been displaced and staying at shelters in Austin, hotels or with family because they can’t go back to their homes yet,” said Felicia Pena, community engagement director for Central Texas Food Bank.
The Central Texas Food Bank provided UT with a customized list of non-food and food items to donate which can be found on all donation boxes and the Office of Dean of Students’ website. The food bank has asked for prioritized donations for protein-rich, shelf-stable meals such as peanut butter, beans, canned tuna and soup.
“I think that everyone on campus realized the severity of this situation,” Senate Vice President Lu Barraza said. “We all had our individual ways we wanted to help, but I was glad to see the different organizations come together and work with University organizations to get one coherent drive going and make sure we were helping as many people as possible.”
It was important to get a large professional organization on board like the Central Texas Food Bank for this drive to be as effective as possible, said Erica Saenz, associate vice president for Division of Community and External Relations.
“We wanted to make sure that we were going to work with a nonprofit that could work with all the East Texas areas and would customize what is needed in what town, at what time,” Saenz said. “We didn’t want to put that kind of stress on any of the people who just wanted to contribute and give. We wanted to do that effectively, so we’re not burdening the system.”
Information about ongoing Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by other UT organizations can be found on the Office of the Dean of Students website.
“We’ll continue to help people that are displaced by the hurricane I’m sure for a year or two to come,” Pena said. “Hunger doesn’t take a break or go away after the hurricane stops.”