Over the course of a two-week drive in the Hoot Market (C-store), 737 items were donated and are to be sent to the Red Cross for hurricane relief. The drive was a collaboration between the university and dining services, according to General Manager of Brandeis Dining Services Andy Allen.
“We know that the community wanted to do something for the hurricane relief, and we worked out a way to do it at the HOOT [market]!,” wrote Allen in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. The drive, which ended on Wednesday, displayed items such as water, paper towels and canned goods in the entrance to the store. As students or other community members entered the market, they were prompted to purchase a few of the display items and donate them as part of the drive.
As of now, the items are still on the Brandeis campus, but Allen is working with the Red Cross to determine where the products are to go.
While the drive was live for two weeks, the first week ended in few donations. During one trip to the store shortly after the drive began, Emily Politi ’19 asked her friend working a shift behind the register how much had been donated and learned that next to no donations had been received.
As she spoke to her friends, Politi realized most students assumed the pile of donation items were simply unstocked merchandise. “It was really unclear that three quarters of the stuff still needed to be donated, so I went the next morning, and I talked to the manager,” said Politi. At the time, the only advertising for the drive was one poster with what seemed like 1,000 words, explained Politi.
To draw more attention to the cause, Politi got permission to display a large cardboard poster along with smaller paper signs identifying the items needing to be donated. “Every day I’d go back, and there was more stuff that had been bought and moved over,” she said. In addition to the physical signs, Politi and her friends shared informational posts on their personal Facebook pages, as well as the class pages.
“I just tried to get people to know because it’s really easy to get stuck in your bubble at Brandeis and get caught up in your school work and friend stuff or whatever’s going on in your life…and forget about everything else,” Politi explained. As a lower New York resident, she recalled living through Hurricane Sandy five years ago, an experience that contributed to her motivation for helping with the C-store relief drive.
“I had a tree fall in my house and could see the sky through my roof,” said Politi, noting how fortunate she was that her mom could afford to get it repaired. “But there are so many people who can’t afford to have these places rebuilt or don’t have electricity even to think about it,” she continued. “Right now they only can think about survival.”
Like Politi, when Allen was seven years old, he lived through Hurricane Camille in Southern Mississippi where his father was stationed with the Air Force. “After the storm was over, we drove through the towns that were affected, and I still remember the enormous amount of devastation,” wrote Allen. “To see the devastation of the two hurricanes that hit this year brought back the memories again.”
Although the C-store hurricane relief drive has ended, there are still other opportunities for students to donate to the cause. For more information, visit the Disaster Relief Efforts webpage under the Brandeis Department of Community Service.
Major hurricanes have ravaged parts of the U.S. and Caribbean in recent weeks. Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Irma in Florida and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico have caused major flooding and damage, and Puerto Rico has been without power for weeks.