The stories and images coming out of Houston and other areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey have been harrowing, and for many in the University of Virginia community, have hit far too close to home.
The University is home to many students, faculty and staff members and alumni with ties to the Houston area and other parts of Texas and Louisiana affected by the storm. As these ’Hoos work to keep their families safe and help their communities rebuild, the UVA community is finding ways to support them.
Here are some of the initial relief efforts that are already underway.
Support for Students Impacted by the Storm
On Grounds, UVA’s Office of Student Affairs has been reaching out to students from Texas this week to offer support and resources as they and their families deal with the impact of the storm.
On Thursday night, Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer Patricia Lampkin hosted a drop-in dinner and social for Texas students at her home on the Lawn, giving them an opportunity to connect with resources, meet one another and simply have a place for conversation. Lampkin offered similar opportunities for students from Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and other events.
Facilities Management Donation Drive
Employees in UVA’s Division of Facilities Management are organizing a donation center for members of the University community to drop off items for those displaced by the floods.
Jessie McGann, a program support technician with Facilities Management, has secured a 14-foot trailer to collect donations. Items being sought include shampoo, disposable razors, toothbrushes, Clorox wipes, sanitary pads, diapers, rash ointment and wipes, body wash, contact solution and contact cases, first aid kits, laundry detergent, flashlights, batteries, emergency candles, Ziplock bags, aspirin and Tylenol, tissues, pet supplies, medical supplies and non-perishable food items, including baby food.
There is a drop-off area at the Facilities Management warehouse at 575 Alderman Rd.
McGann said that once the trailer is full it will be turned over to the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, which will put it on a tractor trailer going to Houston.
McGann, who said she does a lot of volunteer work, was moved by the images coming out of Texas. She said this was something that could happen anywhere.
“It happened here in 1969 in Nelson County,” she said, referring to Hurricane Camille, which unleashed more than two feet of rainfall in Nelson County over just eight hours.
Save the Children Response
Carolyn Miles, a graduate of UVA’s Darden School of Business, is now CEO of Save the Children, a non-governmental organization that reaches more than 165 million children in 120 countries, providing nutrition, health, education and other services. UVA’s Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center named her its 2017 Distinguished Alumna for her decades of dedicated service to Save the Children.
Miles traveled to Houston on Wednesday and her organization has been on the ground in Texas since the storm struck, distributing supplies like cribs, strollers and infant and toddler hygiene products to shelters in San Antonio and Austin. They also set up child-friendly spaces for safe and supervised play amid the chaos and are providing trained staff to help children deal with the difficult emotions such disasters bring.
Miles said the organization’s response has only just begun, as it continues to move into shelters in the hardest-hit areas.
“We know that children’s needs won’t end when the rain stops. Save the Children will be there for kids today, tomorrow and over the coming weeks and months to help them cope, rebuild and plan for the future,” she wrote in an email.
Those wishing to contribute to Save the Children’s efforts can donate to the Hurricane Harvey Children’s Relief Fund.
Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign
UVA employees can also contribute to hurricane relief through the annual Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign, or CVC, a charity drive that involves all state employees in Virginia. UVA employees raised more than $1 million in donations to various charities through the campaign last year, accounting for almost 32 percent of all CVC contributions.
Those wishing to contribute through this campaign can donate to relief funds at the American Red Cross, Americares or the Salvation Army – all CVC-supported charities – and log their donation on the CVC direct giving page. So far, UVA employees have donated around $2,000 for Harvey relief through the CVC. State employees have donated more than $22,000 so far.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office has also put out a statement with resources for Virginians interested in donating time and money to Harvey relief efforts.