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APU Responds with Action After Haiti Disaster

by Karla Shirvanian '10

When the Azusa Pacific University community heard about the devastating earthquake in Haiti that has claimed more than 100,000 lives, conversations began about how the university could take part in the relief efforts. As they followed news updates on what has been the worst earthquake experienced in two centuries leaving countless homeless, destroying almost all the buildings, and leaving thousands still not accounted for. APU students, faculty, and staff began mobilizing to find ways to help those in need of aid.

In a campus-wide email from Matt Browning, associate vice president for internalization, the university offered opportunity for a collective campus response to help the people of Haiti. The university stated it would partner with its sister school, Christian University in North Haiti to provide relief. Christian University has been used as a site for Haitian graduate students to take courses through APU's Operation Impact. Also, in the past few years APU has been sending missions teams through Focus International to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

"We want be as strategic as possible with how we might offer financial help immediately to the people of Haiti," wrote Browning in the email. "While there are many reputable organizations we could give money to, I feel compelled to help a specific organization we have a relationship with and trust. I believe that this helps us be the best stewards we can be, while allowing us to empower people who already know how to help in the ways they think are best."

An offering took place that Friday, January 15, in chapel, as well as a second offering the following Wednesday, which together raised more than $4,000 immediately sent to Christian University to be used for medical supplies for people who still had not yet received the medical treatment needed. The university urged students to only give if they were able.

Students have also taken initiative to help the plight of Haiti in additional ways. The Student Government Association (SGA) organized a fundraiser in collaboration with a local yogurt shop, Tutti Frutti, from January 21- 29, with 50 percent of the proceeds going to help the Haiti Relief Fund. More than $1,500 was raised. SGA also organized a shoe drive, setting up locations throughout campus where students dropped off 370 pairs of slightly worn shoes for Haiti in collaboration with Soles4Souls and Sports Chalet.

In addition, a band made up of five APU students, performed on Friday, January 23, and asked those attending to bring pants for the Haitian people. In collaboration with Teens for Jeans, the band collected 35 pairs of pants to be sent for Haiti.

APU's Office of Ministry and Service hosted a panel discussion on Monday, January 25, bringing faculty, staff, and students together to discuss the ongoing events in Haiti and the ways to help. From faculty with Haitian roots, to nursing professors with disaster response experience, to faculty with expertise on economic recovery, the panel offered a wealth of knowledge for students to glean from.

It offered a time for students, faculty and staff could become more aware of what is going on in Haiti, the vital needs of the people, and the manner that aid could become most efficient, allowing everyone to come together and identify ways they could best respond.