La Sierra students dig deep to help Haiti
Jan. 15, 2010
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) While many La Sierra University students may not yet have full-time jobs, they dug deep into their pockets over the past two days and gave what they could to aid the devastated nation of Haiti.
During University Worship on Jan. 14, campus Chaplain Sam Leonor called on students to contribute money to help victims of the 7.0 temblor that on Jan. 12 leveled much of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The students pulled bills and coins from their pockets and backpacks, contributing more than $1,560. The giving continued Jan. 15 as students stopped by the university’s Spiritual Life office with their funds. All told, students contributed about $1,600 to the cause. The university will forward the money in the form of a check to the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), an international humanitarian relief organization that is in Haiti aiding the crisis.
ADRA has established on its Web site, the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund and is seeking to immediately raise $1 million for food, generators, tents and medicines. Individuals wishing to donate may contact ADRA at www.adra.org or 1-800-424-2372.
The outpouring of support from La Sierra students touched campus leaders. “Our students are incredible, compassionate, generous, talented, the best,” Leonor said.
“We have a lot of generous students,” commented Fain Nahab, special projects coordinator for Student Life. “We were really shocked by what was coming in.”
The campus is also planning a benefit concert in February with the university’s Big Band and other performers to raise additional funds. Additionally, La Sierra’s student missionaries have requested a spring break trip to Haiti to help in earthquake recovery efforts.
La Sierra’s short-term mission trips typically take place during spring break in late March. This year the university had planned to send students to Arizona, Hawaii, Kenya and Belize. But students who had signed up for the short-term trips all requested to work in the desolated Caribbean nation, Leonor said. “…We’re working on that. We’re pretty sure we’re going to have a trip at the end of March to Haiti,” he said.
Traviett Jernigan Ford, La Sierra human resources analyst and president of LSU’s Black Student Association helped draw attendees to two prayer service and fund raising idea sessions at nearby Mt. Rubidoux Seventh-day Adventist Church. Several Haitian individuals connected with La Sierra attend the church and have been impacted by the Jan. 12 tragedy.
Claire Tucker, a double major in social sciences and liberal arts at La Sierra, organized the meetings at Mt. Rubidoux which took place on Jan. 14 and 15. Haitians struggling to deal with the disaster attended the meetings to pray, talk about their experiences and discuss ways to raise funds.
Tucker grew up in the Port-au-Prince area. She has between 40 and 50 family members in Haiti, many in the earthquake-rocked region. On Wednesday evening she received news that members of her family had survived the quake, but as of Jan. 15 she still had not heard from some brothers and sisters, or from her best friend who is a physician there. “It’s pretty bad,” she said. She plans to travel to Haiti in the near future, either with through a La Sierra mission trip or as a Creole-speaking volunteer with a Los Angeles-area fire department. Planning the Mt. Rubidoux meetings, praying with others and organizing relief efforts helps Tucker deal with her anxieties. “It’s keeping me going a little bit,” she said.
The people in Haiti need food, Tucker said, and Seventh-day Adventist churches there need help. “Most of the churches in the Port-au-Prince area are messed up,” she said. Tucker described stories she’d heard of the desolation of some churches that collapsed during the quake, causing widespread death and devastation.
According to a notice on the Web site of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, Haiti has more than 335,000 Adventists worshiping in 470 churches. The denomination operates a hospital, university and dozens of schools there. An Adventist-operated orphanage in Haiti sustained no damage and its 50 children and caretakers are safe, according to the notice submitted by Martin Weber, Mid-America Union communication director.
Once things calm down a bit, the group at Mt. Rubidoux church plans to adopt an Adventist church in the Port-au-Prince area and provide aid, Tucker said. “The churches down there are going to need a lot of support.”
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University