The Hurricane Matthew Relief Drive, which runs until Nov. 22, is located in Williams Hall Suite 120. The drive benefits those affected by Hurricane Matthew. (Meihui Chen/B&W Staff)

Africana Studies Student Association holds relief drive for Haiti


The Africana Studies Student Association is holding a Hurricane Matthew relief drive through Nov. 22 to help those in need in Haiti.

More than 1.4 million people in Haiti are in need of aid because of Hurricane Matthew, which struck earlier this month. According to the United Nations News Centre, 546 people in Haiti lost their lives, however, the Huffington Post reports the death toll is more than 1,000.

“This is something that is devastating for Haiti, which in a lot of ways is still recovering and rebuilding from the earthquake from years ago,” said James Peterson, a professor of English and the director of Africana studies at Lehigh.

Peterson said ASSA is looking for toothbrushes and other toiletries, gently-used clothing and socks, first-aid medical supplies, plastic baby bottle liners and bagged dry goods. Donations can be brought to Williams Hall Suite 120. Monetary donations are not accepted.

Tamara Jones, ‘17, a member of ASSA, said donation boxes will be placed at events and other locations on campus.

“We just want to be able to help in any way we can, and this is one of the simplest ways,” said Karen Valerio, ’17, an ASSA member who helped to organize the drive. “We encourage everyone to get a toothbrush or socks. Every little bit counts because at the end of the day, our main message is that community is what is going to help us surpass a lot of the challenges, a lot of the struggles, that we face.”

Valerio said the drive is not limited to people involved with Africana studies, and professors, faculty, staff and anyone on Lehigh’s campus can donate.

All items will be donated directly to Haiti through the Shiloh Baptist Church. Peterson said the church, which has a congregation in Haiti, has worked with the Africana studies department as well as other on-campus organizations before.

“We wanted to find a grass-roots organization or a place that we could trust with the goods,” Valerio said. “Shiloh is running a drive just like ours and so we’re joining forces to ensure that the Haitian people get these goods.”

This is one of ASSA’s first major projects, Valerio said. The organization is made up of majors and minors in Africana studies with the goal of starting more conversations about social justice that lead to community action, she said.

“We want to emphasize the importance of being aware of social injustices that people in the United States go through and obviously on a global scale as well,” Valerio said.

Peterson said the Black Student Union, Lambda Theta Alpha, the African-Caribbean Culture Club, Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Gamma Rho have collaborated with ASSA for the relief drive.

“We just want to get as many people to donate something,” Valerio said, “even if it’s just one thing.” 

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