November 18, 2012

Students, college help with hurricane relief


---- — PLATTSBURGH — SUNY Plattsburgh students are joining forces to raise funds for the American Red Cross’s Hurricane Sandy relief effort.

Organizations, individual students, sororities and fraternities have staged coin drives in the residence halls, are hosting tables at Angell College Center and Champlain Centre mall and will be engaging in other efforts in the coming weeks.

“A couple of days after the hurricane hit, administrators of student affairs got together to discuss the fundraising efforts we knew the student groups were involved in,” Allison Swick-Duttine, director of fraternity/sorority life and organization development at SUNY Plattsburgh, said in a news release.

About 20 percent of the college’s student population hails from the regions most heavily impacted by the storm.

“We knew many students were going to try to do things for the victims,” Swick-Duttine said. “We thought we’d try to harness their efforts to make a bigger impact. I volunteered to coordinate all that.”

An initial meeting was held Nov. 1, when some 35 students, representing residence-hall councils, organizations, clubs, fraternities and sororities, came to assist in the campaign. They discussed fundraising options and efforts to increase involvement.

“We’re trying to get the word out to students, faculty and staff that they can all participate,” Swick-Duttine said.

Kathryn Castillo, a senior anthropology major from the Bronx, said that while she has been involved in community service and fundraising events throughout her years at SUNY Plattsburgh, Hurricane Sandy hit close to home — literally and figuratively.

“We didn’t have much damage at our home, but we were really fortunate compared to so many others. I know so many people up here who have families and friends affected in New York and New Jersey,” Castillo said in the college release. “It made me sad.”

So she headed an effort last week at Champlain Centre mall, where she and other volunteers accepted donations for Red Cross disaster relief.

The college is making sure students whose families were affected by the hurricane know resources are available to them on campus and in the community. These include counseling services, assistance from faculty for academic challenges and possible adjustments to financial-aid packages for qualified students.

In addition, the Student Association sponsored a round-trip bus for students from the region who felt the need to visit home.

For more information on the student fundraising efforts or to contribute or volunteer, contact Swick-Duttine at 564-4825 or