Officials collected donations and contributed to hurricane relief efforts through the United Methodist Church.
Religious life officials collected several thousand supply donations through September and October. Donation efforts started after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Houston as a Category 4 hurricane. Donation efforts were extended when Hurricane Irma hit Florida.
The Rev. Elizabeth Horton-Ware, director of religious life, worked with trustee the Rev. David Wilson and Dr. Charles Neff, vice president for university-church relations, to initiate the donations drive.
About 400 items were taken Oct. 31 to the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist where they will be shipped to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and distributed from there.
UMCOR is a nonprofit organization forming the humanitarian relief and development arm of the United Methodist Church, according to www.umcor.org. They control disaster relief donations made through Methodist churches and channel them to relief institutions in affected areas. The university’s contribution to UMCOR totaled about $1,500.
Horton-Ware said the decision to start the donations drive partially came in response to interest from the student body.
“It became pretty clear that there was a lot of people here who had been impacted or people they love had been impacted, so we started getting people saying ‘I’ll take stuff’ or ‘Can I help?’” she said.
The remaining items collected at the university are being packaged to be sent to other relief organizations. Officials are looking for agencies and organizations in Houston to which they can send the remainder of the donations.
Horton-Ware said the volume of donation from all departments of the university shows a strong level of charity from the campus.
Callie Michaud, costume design and production senior, is from Houston and said the university’s response is comforting to her.
“My family, personally, got very lucky in the whole situation, but I know a lot of OCU students weren’t as lucky with their homes being flooded,” Michaud said. “It’s been so great just seeing everyone come together about this one issue.”
Sarah Hallett, nursing senior, is president of the Nursing Student Association and worked to station donation bins in Kramer School of Nursing and at the college’s Duncan campus.
“Our bin was just overflowing. It’s nice when people come together like that to help other communities that are in a different area that need help,” she said. “If you think about it, these people lost everything, so what little we could do to help is a big impact on what’s going on in their lives at that moment.”
Horton-Ware said religious life officials are no longer collecting donations, and the only way for students to support hurricane relief through them is to help cover the shipping costs of donations or to donate boxes for donations to be shipped in.
Students may email Horton-Ware at firstname.lastname@example.org if they want to help. She encourages students who want to help the UMCOR to visit the donation page at umcor.org/search-for-projects.