Merrill to Moore: These College Students Know Tornado Relief

In April of 2011, a tornado touched down in Merrill, Wisc., about 30 miles north of the Globe University-Wausau campus.  This tornado caused millions of dollars in damage, including severe damage at a local airport and industrial park.  More than 60 homes were damaged, and several people were injured.  Some students of Globe University-Wausau were directly affected by this natural disaster. 

Our campus quickly reached out to help and organized a very successful event, the We CARE feast. In total, we raised more than $14,000 to help the victims of the Merrill tornado.  Our entire campus was overwhelmed by the generosity demonstrated by everyone involved in this fundraising effort.

So, when Moore, Okla., was devastated by tornadoes earlier this year, our campus felt a particular desire to pay it forward. The Student Ambassador group immediately suggested donating the remaining items from the semi-annual Globe Style Giveaway to relief efforts, and suggested adding a donation drive to an already scheduled electronics recycling event.

The Student Ambassador group reached out to the Salvation Army of Marathon County to coordinate a donation drive.  Colleen Mashlan, the volunteer and emergency disaster services coordinator, gladly offered to partner with the Student Ambassadors, and also offered some advice.  She let us know that while she appreciated the intent behind the offer of items, they could only accept monetary donations. There were several reasons for this. The cost of transporting items to an affected area often negates the value of the items themselves, while using monetary donations to buy items in the affected area helps to stimulate the economy in the area itself. 

Purchasing the items in the area also allows the workers to buy the items that are actually needed in a timely manner as the needs arise, which is more beneficial than trying to anticipate needs and have the items arrive several days later.  Purchasing only the items that are needed also frees the volunteers in the affected area to perform other functions rather than unloading a truck and sorting the items. Finally, purchasing the items that are needed as they are needed also eliminates the need for storage, especially in a situation like this, in which people may have lost their homes and have nowhere to take items.  

The Salvation Army would know how to best provide aid to those affected by a large scale disaster such as this, since they have been providing disaster relief services since the Galveston hurricane in 1900, which completely devastated the city and killed more than 5,000 people. In May, the Salvation Army was on the ground in Oklahoma almost immediately to provide service to those affected, and continues to serve today.  According to their Tornado Relief Fast Facts site, as of June 9, 2013, the Salvation Army has “provided 60,564 meals, 93,520 drinks, and 95,678 snacks, 23 Canteens (mobile feeding units), 4,593 Clean-up and 19,815 Comfort (hygiene) kits, and prayer with 11,239 persons.  Volunteers, employees and officers have logged more than 18,040 hours” since May 19, 2013.

The Student Ambassador group was excited to help the Salvation Army with their relief efforts.  The Salvation Army graciously lent their giant red kettle to be set up in the commons of the Wausau campus.  Word spread quickly about the arrival of the kettle, and three student groups who had planned to do fundraisers agreed to contribute the proceeds of their efforts also.  The kettle generated interest amongst visitors to our campus, too.  When the Special Olympics Torch Run team arrived on campus on June 6, several runners contributed to the cause.

The various groups on campus pulled together to make an admirable donation.  The Medical Assistant Club sold nachos, the Massage Therapy Club sold non-alcoholic margaritas, and the Vet Tech club sold homemade pet treats.  When Lieutenant Jacob Tripp arrived on campus to retrieve the giant red kettle and receive the final donations, he was pleased to learn that as a whole, the Globe University-Wausau campus contributed approximately $550 to the Salvation Army’s Oklahoma tornado relief.

Student Ambassador Tabitha Edson observed, “I love being part of a campus community who does so much to try to help others.  We are always reminded that our community is not just the people that we see every day.  Our community is more than our campus or even the cities and towns we live in.  Our community is everywhere.”

-By Nora Craven, Campus Librarian, Globe University-Wausau