CSI Students Unite to Help Haiti

The OUI Club (The Organization of Unique Individuals, The Students with Disabilities), supported by the Gay-Straight Alliance, the Christian Club, the Emerging Leaders, Student Government, and CSI staff members, took on last week’s snowy weather and this week’s cold to hold a two-day fundraiser, “A Little Love on Campus,” for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, raising over $1,000.

Marybeth Melendez, president of the OUI Club, said “I am proud to know that our work, even if in a small way, will help to rebuild a nation, but I’m just as equally proud to report that the OUI Club and the Office of Disability Services helped lead and pave the way…We knocked on doors and our message of collaboration, integration, acceptance, and working together is a message that was not only well heard, but well received.”

The event was initially scheduled only for Thursday, February 11, as a pre-Valentine’s Day celebration, but last week’s heavy snow caused a delayed opening of the school and created problems in obtaining the baked goods, flowers, and balloons that were to be sold. Regardless, the group had baked goods that had been donated by CSI students and they soldiered on, setting up tables in the Library and the Campus Center, and trudging through the snow to offer their wares in person to staff in College offices. Melendez reported that the response was fantastic, regardless of the weather and reduced numbers of people on campus.

After the February 11 sale, the group decided to hold the originally planned event in its entirety, yesterday in the Campus Center. Once again, students offered baked goods, and also flowers and balloons, and raffle chances to win a gift basket that included all the trimmings for a romantic evening, such as dinner passes, movie tickets, and a bottle of sparkling cider. Local businesses who provided saleable items included Shop-Rite, Chock full o’Nuts, Party City, Walgreen’s, Starbucks, Alfonso Pastry Shoppe, Renato’s Pastry Shoppe, Li Greci’s Staaten, United Artist’s,and CSI’s Food Service.

Commenting on the success of “A Little Love on Campus,” Sara Gaither, OUI Club Adviser, commented, “I am so proud of the OUI club for their tremendous efforts in raising over $1,000 for Haiti. It was particularly inspiring for me to observe our members working together with such intensity, purpose, and camaraderie. Look out because this club is really going to do some amazing things this year!”

Christopher Cruz Cullari, Interim Director of the Office of Disability Services, said, “Our students continue to achieve at higher and higher levels in the classroom and in their co-curricular endeavors. Students are applying what they’ve learned in their general education classes and in training offered by our office regarding community service and being active, engaged members of a community. They make me proud and I continue to learn as much from them as I hope they learn from me.”

These sales are the beginning of the OUI Club’s efforts to unite the College community to help the people of Haiti. Melendez reported that they will be working with the American Red Cross throughout the spring semester, including an upcoming colloquium, presented by the Director of the Red Cross’s Staten Island Chapter, to inform the campus community of the situation in the ravaged island nation, but also to encourage them to help.

By Terry Mares

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