Campus hosts benefit bingo for Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Oswego State students and faculty and community members in Oswego gathered on Wednesday night to fundraise for relief efforts in Puerto Rico after the devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Different departments around campus collaborated with the department of Community Services to host a bingo competition where every cent of the proceeds will be sent to United for Puerto Rico, a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the victims of the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico in September.

“We knew at this point in the relief effort, money is really the most helpful option,” said Catherine Farrell, coordinator of Community Services. “Bingo has been super popular in the past and it worked really well, so we decided to go with the tried and true and try to raise as much money as possible.”

Community Services reached out to United for Puerto Rico in response to students’ requests to help with the relief effort.

“United for Puerto Rico is an initiative brought forth by the first lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, in collaboration with the private sector, with the purpose of providing aid and support to those affected in Puerto Rico by the passage of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. 100 percent of the proceeds will go to helping the victims affected by these natural disasters in Puerto Rico,” the United for Puerto Rico’s webpage reads.

The organization’s mission is to “aid individuals and small businesses devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria to accelerate in their recovery by helping meet housing, food and health needs, facilitating that they may rebuild their lives, communities and Puerto Rico,” according to an Oct. 9 press release.

Farrell said she wanted to find an organization that would send every dollar to helping the victims rather than just a portion. She also said Community Services would like to organize an alternative spring break trip to Puerto Rico in the next few years for students to get the opportunity to directly help victims in the rebuilding phase.

“We hope people stay interested and aware because that tends to fade out of the news a little bit,” Farrell said. “We know it’s still pretty close to the time that the hurricane hit, but Community Services is really hoping that we can keep people interested.”

Several campus departments, such as Residence Life and Housing, Student Association and Campus Life, volunteered and donated to the cause. Members of President Deborah Stanley’s council read off the bingo numbers during the event. Wayne Westervelt, chief communication officer in the Office of Communications and Marketing, was among these participants.

“This is a great opportunity for the college campus students, employees and even the greater Oswego community because we invite the community to come out, have some fun, do something we don’t normally do, but do it knowing that all of the funds contributed are going to hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. That’s a win-win,” Westervelt said.

Several departments on campus and businesses in the Oswego community donated raffle baskets and gift certificates to be raffled off at the end of the event. One of the raffle items was an all-expenses paid alternative spring break trip, donated by Community Services, in which the winning student will be sent with others to Houston to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the area in August, just before hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico.

“I think one of the great things is when we have local donors. Then our students and staff and community are able to use those gift cards or whatever to connect with our community outside of it,” Farrell said.

Admission for the event was $3, which included a bingo board and five raffle tickets. Additional bingo boards and raffle tickets were available for $1 each. Each winner received raffle tickets to put in for items they wanted.

“I went to the bingo event because one: I love bingo; it’s something that me and my Grandma do,” said Shatia Cowan, an Oswego State senior. “And two: I saw that all proceeds were going to the hurricane relief, so it’s just a way of giving back. It may not be a lot, but a little goes a long way.

Photo: Taylor Woods | The Oswegonian

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