A candlelight vigil for the crisis in Haiti will be held tonight at 7:30 p.m. on Dexter Lawn. Raise the Respect, a Cal Poly Student Community Services program, is hosting the event to raise awareness and money for those who fell victim to the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti that occurred Jan. 12.
The event will allow students to express their support for the Haitians, explained Joy Harkins, a program coordinator of Student Life and Leadership.
“I think a lot of students are looking for ways to show their support,” Harkins said. “The Student Community Center is looking for ways to help the students to act locally.”
The vigil features various speakers supporting and honoring the innumerable suffering Haitians with a reading or a poem. Alcenat John Honorat, a native Haitian and a civil engineering junior, will talk about his family and friends as they deal with the ongoing disaster. Molly Roach, a child development junior, will share a reading on behalf of former student, Jack Strutner, who was present during the earthquake. Megan McIntyre, an industrial engineer sophomore, will be performing slam poetry.
“Help Haiti Now” merchandise will be sold, including buttons and bags, and pins will be given to those who donate. All donations and proceeds will go toward an organization aiding Haiti, to be determined.
“We hope that students can show their support in some way, either by spreading the word or giving a donation,” Harkins said.
Co-director of Raise the Respect, Lauren Herrera, an industrial engineering senior, remains optimistic about the situation in Haiti.
“It’s tragic that this earthquake happened and so many lives have been taken, but in some respects, it’s brought attention to a country that has needed aid for quite some time now,” she said. “I hope that we can help bring awareness to the current issue in Haiti as well as provide some Haitians with some form of relief through our fundraiser efforts.”
Though Herrera planned the event in accordance with the forecast, in case of rain, the event will be moved into the breezeway of the Business building.
The earthquake struck 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. An estimated 150,000 death toll has been reported by the Haitian Health Ministry. Another 194,000 have been injured, and 3 million total have been affected by the earthquake, according to CNN.com. Survivors in the capital are left with little food or water and no electricity or phone service.
Raise the Respect also hosted a fundraiser at Natural Cafe Monday night. The fundraiser raised more than $100, which will go to Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL), a non-profit organization that works toward making Haiti sustainable and is now directly aiding the devastated country. In addition, there is a collection bin for shoes, lightweight blankets and backpacks outside of the Student Community Services office, University Union, room 217. These are the most essential items for survivors in Haiti, Harkins explained.
Used shoes in good condition can also be dropped off at the Multicultural Center for their “Soles for Souls” donation this week until Friday.