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UF Organizations Collect Donations for the Bahamas

On the last day of August, Gainesville residents waited to see if Hurricane Dorian would make its way to them. They were not the ones who had to worry.

On September 1, the Category 5 hurricane struck the Abaco islands of the Bahamas. As of Tuesday, the death toll has reached 50. According to CNN, at least 70,000 people in the Bahamas are now homeless.

In Gainesville, Stephen Hesson, Gainesville Fire Department assistant chief, said the only damage was a tree falling on a house. There was no injury.

“When Hurricane Dorian came, the only loosely attributed occurrence was minimal winds,” Hesson said. “It did not get too strong.”

While UF students were relieved the hurricane didn’t hit campus or Gainesville, some had their thoughts turned to the Caribbean and their families.

“We are very fortunate for the hurricane not to hit us,” said Chelsey Omega, second year UF graduate student and president of the Caribbean Law Students Association. “Some of our members had families in the Bahamas. They are a part of us.”

Facebook flooded with students posting GoFundMe links to raise money for the Bahamas. Along with that, many students were posting the locations to drop off donations to be for the Bahamas.

The Caribbean Law Students Association (CLSA) worked with the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) to create fundraisers. The CLSA focused on raising monetary funds while the BLSA set up three donation boxes around the Levin College of Law with a list of items to donate, such as toiletries, batteries, or diapers.

“This was a spontaneous community service event that I put together really quickly,” said Alexis Moore, second year graduate student and community service chair of the Black Law Students Association. “Our two separate organizations [CLSA and BLSA] partnered together since we all identify as black, and most members are in both clubs because we have family from the Caribbean.”

BLAS began its hurricane relief drive immediately following the hit on the Bahamas, but many donations had to wait until classes resumed. In anticipation of Hurricane Dorian, UF closed the campus on September 3 and cancelled classes until that Thursday. UF spokesman Steve Orlando said that was the only immediate action resulting from the hurricane.

The CLSA began the fundraiser September 9 and raised $400 on the first day.

BLSA’s donation drive will last until September 17. The relief effort has already filled two boxes.

Omega, CLSA president, encourages students to reach out to the organizations and help out with hurricane relief.

“If we could do something to help out someone else, especially because the island has been swallowed up basically, I think we should,” Omega said. “If you have the position to help someone out, then help out.”

Stephany Matat is a freshman at University of Florida studying journaism and marketing. She has previously worked in her high school media and yearbook clubs, SOCIETY19, and Miami Dade College’s newspaper, The Reporter. Her hobbies are playing guitar and going to local music concerts. Her favorite bands are The Beatles and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
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