The aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Jacksonville, Florida caused major flooding problems and injuries. Many Lehigh organizations have held fundraisers to donate to those affected by Hurricane Irma. (Courtesy of Danielle Rucci)

Lehigh community contributes to Hurricane Irma relief efforts

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Hurricane Irma hit Florida earlier this month, leaving a path of destruction and distress in its wake. The hurricane, which was originally predicted as a Category 5, caused flooding and injuries in Jacksonville, as well as the collapse of multiple construction cranes onto buildings in Miami.

In the days following the storm, Lehigh students and alumni contributed to fundraisers and assisted in relief efforts for those impacted by the natural disaster.

Dallas Basha, ’17, recently founded nTrust, which he described as a “sharing network” where users can rent their belongings to other people for a period of time.

“nTrust is a community-based platform powered by people and not the product, and without the community, it would not exist,” Basha said. “So we decided to postpone our operations for the time being and put all of our focus on helping the Irma victims.”

Basha said the company’s goal is to raise $20,000, although he would be happy if the company receives half that. So far, the fundraiser has raised about $1,000.

In order for nTrust to raise as much money as possible, members of the nTrust team tapped into their networks. For Basha, this included Lehigh’s Greek community.

Basha said this was an opportunity for chapters “to show that (they are) not just doing the philanthropy scheduled event that (they) usually do.” He said it is an opportunity for the Greek community to show it’s willing to help when people need it most.

He said chapters can raise money for hurricane relief however they want.

“We decided to kind of attack it from two ends, so we set a $20 minimum per brother in the house to donate to (Basha’s) website, and we are also going to be selling snacks and coffee outside of FML this Sunday and next Sunday to try (to) raise money for the event too,” said Adam Corwin, philanthropy chair for Theta Xi.

Kevin Graff, the president of Theta Xi, said members of the fraternity are reaching out to their families for donations and posting on Facebook to give friends the opportunity to contribute.

Other Lehigh chapters are also contributing to the relief effort.

Alpha Phi held a bake sale in Upper Cort to raise money and also encouraged its members to donate online. Amanda Rogers, the vice president of marketing for the chapter, planned the event last minute when Basha contacted her and explained the urgency of the situation.

On Friday night, Alpha Chi Omega and Alpha Epsilon Pi held a “Hotdogs for Heroes” fundraiser. The money raised from hot dog purchases went toward the relief fund.

“At the end of the day, a community encompasses people — it encompasses people coming together and being a part of something that is bigger than themselves,” Basha said.

While many people wanted to donate supplies, Basha said by raising the money instead, he was able to better purchase and distribute the necessary supplies to the organizations that donors chose to support.

nTrust is working with MUJER, a domestic violence and sexual assault center, and the Immokalee Fire Department in Naples, Florida. Basha said these organizations have lists of required and prioritized items, like ice, water, eggs, diapers and charcoal.

Basha said nTrust is making the final decisions regarding how the funds will be distributed.

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