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University raising money for victims

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Citing the national need to aid victims of hurricane Katrina, the University is initiating several fundraising events and activities, starting with collecting donations at Campus Fest today.

Classified and administrative staff will be working through the BG Gives Back Charitable Campaign to collect monetary donations. All proceeds will go to the United Way.

‘United Way benefits the Red Cross, and that’s the primary agency helping down there,’ said Nora Cassidy, graduate program coordinator in the chemistry department, and co-chair of the BG Gives Back campaign. ‘You can designate your entire contribution to hurricane relief.’

Donations of $5 or more can be bursared, and cash and checks will also be accepted, said Linda Dobb, executive vice president of the University.

Any donation of $5 or more will enter givers into a raffle for an iPod, PDA and gift certificates.

In addition to the staff tables, USG and GSS will be having tables at Campus Fest along with other student organizations.

‘There are several tables that are going to be on campus,’ Cassidy said. ‘We’re all together on this.’

The annual BG Gives Back Campaign was expected to start next week, Dobb said.

‘Our University is involved in charitable giving every year, and we were just about to kick it off and we realized that people would want to give to hurricane relief,’ she said. ‘These people need it right now.’

Helping in the hurricane relief efforts has been on many peoples’ minds, Dobb said.

‘People’s ordinary giving to Muscular Dystrophy [a recent example] has been down because when they think of charitable giving they are giving to the hurricane,’ she said. ‘The list of needs of people who have been displaced from their homes I think is enormous. There is a common sense that we all need to help.’

Following Campus Fest will also be an online pledge form for University employees to give to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and United Way, Dobb said.

‘We just want to make it easy to give,’ she said.

In addition to collecting donations, the University is part of a statewide initiative to offer enrollment to students displaced by the hurricane.

Established by Governor Bob Taft and the Ohio Board of Regents, the College Access Hotline call center will aid students affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Students can call a single access line in Columbus at 1-877-I-ATTAIN. Students will then be connected to the appropriate college or university in Ohio.

‘If there are students who are displaced by the hurricane and wish to attend BGSU we will accommodate them,’ said Mark Gromko, vice provost of Academic Programs.

Gromko is the University contact for the access line.

So far two students affected by Katrina have contacted the University about taking classes here.

There has been a statewide effort to make transferring between colleges easier for students, Gromko said.

‘We have a fairly effective system for transferring students, so it makes us fairly prepared to help students displaced by the hurricane,’ he said. ‘We have well established procedures and processes for transfer students.’

Another means of giving is through the Faculty Senate office. Administrative secretary Barb Garay has established a Gulf Coast Relief Fund, with all donations going to the Red Cross.

Contributions can be made in the name of faculty members. All Donations should be forwarded to Garay at the Faculty Senate office, with checks made to the American Red Cross.

As far as future events are concerned, it’s a matter of organizing and making activities known, said Larry Weiss, associate vice president of the University.

Weiss is serving as the ‘point person’ for the University’s relief efforts.

A meeting was held on campus this week to collaborate on ideas and organize efforts at the University.

‘We’re looking at it from an academic view and an activity view,’ Weiss said. ‘We’re trying to get an idea of what all is going on out there.’

Several suggestions were made at the meeting, including upcoming fundraisers like collecting donations at the Homecoming Game, art event fundraisers, a canned food drive and a silent auction.

Another statewide initiative in the works would be to offer Ohio tuition free to displaced students, and offering free online courses.

Other future projects may include a University sponsored spring break trip for students and staff to aid in the relief efforts.

‘By next spring is when the people down there are really going to need some help,’ Weiss said.

The University is aiming to have a link on the BGSU main Web site for hurricane relief efforts on campus, Weiss said.

Working with the Office of Marketing and Communications, the link would provide information on how students and staff can get involved to volunteer, Weiss said.

‘We’re really trying to tackle it from a whole lot of fronts,’ Weiss said. ‘There’s just so many things that need to be addressed.’

There are plans to meet again about University relief efforts, Weiss said. No date has been set but the meeting would probably be in about two weeks, he said.

‘As a nation and University we realized there is an immediate need right now for victims of the hurricane,’ Dobb said. ‘I think what we’re going to see over the coming months is that these people are going to need a lot of help.’

Any organizations or departments planning relief fundraisers or events should contact the Office of Marketing and Communications to get their event listed on the University’s events Web site.

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