12/19/17 | When Hurricane Maria struck the island of Puerto Rico on September 20, it left 3.4 million residents without power and it was reported that the storm claimed 64 lives. Three months later, much of the island remains without power and the death toll is now projected to be more than 1,000. As residents of the island continue to rebuild, the need for basic supplies is still a challenge and one that resonated with many South Florida residents, including the students of JWU’s North Miami Campus.
“I have family and friends in Puerto Rico, and I also have friends from the university that are Puerto Rican, so I wanted to show support,” said Suyin Carreno '18, a Sports, Entertainment, Event — Management (SEEM) major.
At the time, Carreno was enrolled in SEE 4060, a senior capstone course designed to allow students to utilize the skills learned throughout their academic program to implement a real-life event.
Typically, students choose a sports-related event and assist with the coordination of an aspect of that event.
However, after directly experiencing the impact of Hurricane Irma on South Florida and learning of Puerto Rico’s devastation following Hurricane Maria, the students had a different perspective. “It is almost unimaginable to think of how it would be for an entire country to withstand hurricane after hurricane,” said Mia Bartolotta '18, one of the project leaders in the SEE 4060 class. “Homes were destroyed and people were without water and electricity. When we found out it was possible to ship goods and donations overseas, we were thrilled to be able to put all our effort into making a successful supply drive.”
As people started donating, they began to see the good they were doing.”
Hospitality adjunct Phillip Calloway challenged the students to work together to meet their objective and stressed the importance of getting the entire campus involved to be sure this effort would be a success. “At first it was just ‘let’s collect some stuff for Calloway’s class so we get a good grade,’ but as people started donating and stuff started to pile up, they began to see the good they were doing,” Calloway said.
With the help of the entire campus community, the students collected 27 different types of food items, ranging from canned goods to snack foods; nearly 50 varieties of first aid supplies; 412 personal hygiene items, including soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and lotion; and an assortment of water, paper towels and toilet paper.
The students also collected nearly 10,000 feminine hygiene and baby products, which became a main areas of focus once they learned that these are typically the most forgotten items in supply drives.
The items were shipped to Puerto Rico in partnership with Global Empowerment Mission. Notes Carreno, “I was really happy and glad with the support with got from the Wildcat community. I was also proud about being able to achieve the goal of collecting all of the donations and being able to help people in need.”
TOP: RALLYING THE CAMPUS COMMUNITY TO DONATE TO THE RELIEF EFFORT, L-R: KYLEIGH GRUNDY, SARAH ZAGA, PHILLIP CALLOWAY, MALCOLM FINDLAY + JULIO SOTO. BELOW: THE SEE 4060 CREW. // CALLOWAY WITH STUDENTS SARAH ZAGA, MIA BARTOLOTTA AND PATRICE CHIARAMONTE, ALONG WITH CAMPUS VISITOR ELIZA ROSE. // PACKING UP RELIEF SUPPLIES FOR SHIPMENT TO PUERTO RICO.