Sewanee community unites to provide Hurricane Harvey relief



Photo by Matt Hembree

By Julianna Morgan

Contributing Writer

On August 25, Hurricane Harvey, the first major hurricane to hit the United States since 2005, struck parts of Texas and Louisiana. Many people lost their homes and belongings due to 40 inches of flooding in the area. It was a devastating blow to the United States and its citizens, one that will leave the victims recovering for years to come.

Here at Sewanee, we have several students from the cities affected or closely tied to the catastrophic event. One of the students from the Houston area, Emily Stone (C’20), wishes she could be home with her family and friends at this time, but since this is not possible, she has been raising money through the creation of a t-shirt on Custom Ink.

The proceeds go straight from the website to the National American Red Cross. The front of the shirts say “#houstonstrong” and “H-Town Hold It Down,” a quote used in the Houston area. After hearing about the devastation, Stone leapt into action and created the shirts. “It is hard to be away from home, so this is a way to get home,” said Stone.

Tari Kandemiri (C’18) and Cheyenne Quinones (C’18) recently collected donations of feminine hygiene products in boxes across campus, which they will send to the YES Prep head office.

“I realized that there were not many groups collecting feminine hygiene products, which I know are hard to come by in the areas affected, especially those whose grocery stores were damaged by water and thus are inaccessible,” Kandemiri explained. “Everyone has been really supportive, especially those that experience menstruation, and it feels good to do our best to fill a need that some may be overlooking.”

The Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, Dean of the School of Theology (H’02) is directing another fundraising effort for the hurricane. He is collecting money to send to the Episcopal Relief and Development Agency, and the money then goes to directly benefit those harmed by the hurricane.

Alexander said the efforts have raised $2,000 so far. “What they need is money, to provide meals, transportation, and home repairs,” Alexander commented regarding donations. It is important to realize the disaster is still being assessed and therefore the full needs for the city are not yet known.

Alexander is currently waiting to hear back from disaster coordinating to see what will be needed of volunteers. Once all the damage is assessed, he hopes to send students of the University and School of Theology to assist in recovery efforts.

Several students and staff members at Sewanee are raising money for the Houston Food Bank, as well as YES Prep Public Schools. YES Prep has several Sewanee alumni that wanted to contribute locally as well. To donate to those efforts, one can do so through their Venmo account.

Senior Associate Dean of Student Life Becky Spurlock is helping the Sewanee students who are affected by this disaster by working with the students to see what they and their families need. Spurlock stressed the importance of community and helping those in need.

“The more we can combine our efforts, the bigger difference we can make,” said Spurlock.

We must come together at times like these and help those in need. Sewanee’s sense of community and willingness to help one another sets us apart and helps us to grow stronger and closer. After speaking with members of the Sewanee community, it is evident that we will do whatever is needed to help the students affected by Hurricane Harvey and any other students in the future.