Ole Miss student organizations come together to aid Harvey victims

Posted on Sep 6 2017 - 7:59am by Ben Mighall

Student organizations around campus are pioneering relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Harvey by raising money and gathering supplies over the last week.

The University of Mississippi’s Rebel Relief Disaster Fund will donate money to relief efforts in Houston. That fund focusses on providing dollars and cents instead of supplies, because organizers said they believe the money will go further to helping storm victims than supplies that could go to waste. For now, students affected by the storm can contact the Office of Leadership and Advocacy for help recovering.

Psychology major Cayla Hari and political science major Savannah Maas spearheaded their own Rebel Relief initiative in conjunction with their sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. The initiative includes ways for members of the public to contribute through both monetary donations and supply drop-offs at multiple places around campus.

Hari said the initiative has raised almost $3,000 from its GoFundMe page alone. $1,000 will be used to purchase supplies for the victims of Harvey, and $2,000 will be donated to the Houston Food Bank.

The duo also designed a Rebel Relief shirt, with $8 of each purchase benefitting relief efforts. Hari and Maas will be leading a group of volunteers from Rebel Relief to Houston this weekend to drop off supplies.

Rebel Relief is working with numerous partners, including campus Greek organizations. Each Greek house on campus set up their own donation boxes in which students can drop off supplies for the people of Houston. The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College is also running a donation box at the Honors College on campus.

Rich Wygonik, philantrophy chair of Beta Theta Pi, has seen his chapter step up to aid in the relief process.

“We started hearing how devastating the storm was, not just from the news, but from a lot of the guys in our chapter,” Wygonik said.

The chapter collected clothing, diapers and baby formula through Rebels for a Cause and filled boxes of supplies that will be donated this weekend for Rebel Relief.

Pi Kappa Alpha used a GoFundMe page to fundraise for Hurricane Harvey relief goods, collecting more than $2,000 in donations. The chapter matched the online donations by donating an additional $2,000 toward Food for the Poor, a charity started by the family of one of the chapter members.

Matt McPheron, the philanthropy co-chair for the chapter, said the disaster really hit home for many of the chapter’s members.

“Several of them kept asking what we could do to help,” McPheron said. “With not much time to react, we thought it would be a great idea to start a GoFundMe and have our chapter match the amount we were able to collect.”

While Food for the Poor primarily serves the poorer members of the international community, it also responds to disasters in the United States and will assist those who have been impacted by Harvey.

One on-campus relief efforts gained national social media attention. Kappa Sigma created a fundraiser via Twitter, pledging to donate 25 cents for each retweet and 10 cents for each like.

After the 8 p.m. deadline to retweet and favorite, the tweet had accumulated 16,400 retweets and 27,300 favorites, adding up to approximately $6,800.

However, the tweet went viral after the original Sept. 4 deadline and received more than 144,000 retweets and 265,000 likes since then. Noah Richardson, chapter president of Kappa Sigma, said that after the amount of attention the tweet received, the chapter rounded up the donation to a full $10,000.