A Season for Giving

November 20, 2012

Concern for our neighbors and community knows no season. But for many at the Mailman School, the experience of Hurricane Sandy has brought a heightened sense of responsibility and commitment to those in need that continues as we head into the holidays.

Mailman students sprang into action immediately after the storm, which destroyed about 1,000 homes in New York City and disproportionately affected low-income people, people of color, the elderly, and individuals with chronic health conditions. Ben Spoer (MPH ’14) and 17 other students trekked to the Rockaways in Queens, where they dropped off much-needed supplies and spent the day clearing debris (see photo). Joshua Kriger (MS ’14) volunteered at the Park Slope Armory in Brooklyn, where he reunited a stroke patient evacuated during the storm with his daughter. Chloe Hirshhorn (MPH ’14) joined with the volunteer group New York Cares to check-in on people stranded without power in East Village high-rises.

And the help continues. Rebecca Lo (MPH ’13), vice president of the Student Government Association, and Samantha Hillson (MPH ’13), president of Group for Community Recovery, have joined with the Black and Latino Student Caucus to organize a food drive for residents of storm-torn neighborhoods.

Want to pitch in? Here are ways to participate in helping those affected by Sandy and other neighbors in need during this holiday season.

  • Food Drive for Hurricane Sandy Victims. Donate your canned goods and other packaged food items in bins, including one by the café in the Allan Rosenfield Building. Items are donated via City Harvest. More information on the SGA website.
  • Helping Hands Food Drive. Donate in a bin by the café in the Allan Rosenfield Building and other locations around the Medical Center. Donations go to the Fresh Youth Initiatives' Helping Hands Food Bank, which will distribute it throughout our community. For more information, contact the CUMC Office of Government & Community Affairs at 305-8060 or cumcgca@columbia.edu.
  • Toy Drive. From December 1 to 21, leave toys for children ages 2-13 in a bin in Hess Commons. You can also volunteer with the CUMC Office of Government & Community Affairs to wrap presents, which will be distributed to children in local Head Start and afterschool programs. For more information, contact the CUMC Office of Government & Community Affairs at 305-8060 or cumcgca@columbia.edu.
  • Volunteer Trip to the Rockaways. Activities may involve demolition, cleaning out basements, sorting donation goods, checking on the elderly, and providing food and water. On December 8, a bus will leave at 9am from the CUMC campus and stop at 220 Beach 129th Street, returning at 5pm. A midday pickup is available if you cannot stay all day. Snacks and drinks provided. To RSVP or for more information, contact bspoer@gmail.com.