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Students Organize Fundraisers To Help Haiti

March 2, 2010  
 Filed in Featured

In and around the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, devastation from the 7.0 earthquake on Jan. 12 is evident.

Springfield, Ohio – After seeing the devastation caused by a 7.0 earthquake in the impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti on Jan. 12, Conor O’Rourke, class of 2011 from Mendham, N.J., and Kate Holt, class of 2011 from Hilliard, Ohio, decided they couldn’t simply sit idly by. Both were moved to action, resulting in back-to-back fundraising events that made up the first-ever “Hope For Haiti Weekend” at Wittenberg University.

First up was a concert titled “Sounds of Hope,” Feb. 5, in Post 95, the casual dining area of Wittenberg’s Benham-Pence Student Center. “Sounds of Hope” featured performances by Wittenberg students Lauren Kelly, class of 2012 from Springfield, Ohio; Kent Montgomery, class of 2012 from Xenia, Ohio; Sarah Kropa, class of 2012 from Wadsworth, Ohio; Ariel Andrews, class of 2011 from Ostrander, Ohio; and Colin Payton, class of 2013 from Springfield, Ohio. Admission is free, although donations will be accepted throughout the event, and a raffle will also take place. All proceeds will be donated to the international aid agency Doctors Without Borders.

O’Rourke organized a concert titled “In Harmony for Haiti,” Feb. 6, in Ness Family Auditorium in Hollenbeck Hall. For a $3 admission charge, attendees were treated to performances by Wittenberg a cappella groups Wittmen Crew and Just Eve. A raffle also took place during “In Harmony for Haiti, with all proceeds going to CRUDEM-Hospital Sacre Coeur, one of many overwhelmed medical facilities operating in parts of Haiti not directly impacted by the earthquake.

For O’Rourke, who volunteered in Cap Haitien, Haiti, four consecutive summers helping to educate orphaned boys, the decision to organize a concert and raise money for relief efforts was personal. The earthquake took more than 200,000 lives while leaving millions more injured, homeless or both, and O’Rourke was motivated to not only join the worldwide relief effort, but to take a local lead.

“My theology teacher as a junior in high school told me that if you see it, you’re responsible for it,” said O’Rourke, a history major and Africana studies minor who also is a standout on the Tiger swim team. “Having taken up this responsibility previously, I feel I have a duty to help in any way I can now.”

O’Rourke’s first experience volunteering in Haiti was organized by teachers at the Canterbury School in Milford, Conn., where O’Rourke attended high school. He hopes to return to Haiti with current students and teachers from Canterbury during Wittenberg’s Spring Break in March.

“The people of Haiti deserve our support, no matter how big or small the event,” O’Rourke said. Written by: Ryan Maurer

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