Hurricane Sandy has devastated families up and down the East Coast. As of November 12th over 16,000 families in just New York City were still without power. Based off an estimated $50 billion dollars in damages in the State of New York, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo plans on requesting $30 billion of federal disaster aid to help rebuild the state. Still New York is just one of the 19 states that have been drastically affected by the hurricane.


Here at Western, students, faculty and staff have come together in their own effort to help aid in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Via the Washington State Combined Fund Drive, a campaign has been initiated to help send funds to charities on the ground at sites affected by the disastrous storm.  


“[The] Combined Fund Drive is the only state sanctioned employee workplace giving program. It’s been around for 26-27 years,” said Sara Wilson, Western’s campaign leader for the Combined Fund Drive. “This is a way in which employees can direct their donation dollars as state agencies. Once a year, every fall, we will launch that campaign and invite members of our campus community to participate and donate to the charities of their choice. There are over 3,500 charities that have been registered with the secretary of state’s office.”


But the Hurricane Sandy relief effort is different. For this campaign the Combined Fund Drive has been structured so that the scope of contributors can be broadened. Instead of only allowing state employees to donate via payroll deduction, as is the norm, for Hurricane Sandy anyone with a credit or debit card can donate. This will allow students and other community members to donate as well.


The 10 selected charities that will be receiving the money raised via the Washington State Combined Fund Drive are the American Red Cross General Fund, the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Catholic Charities U.S.A., the Children’s Hunger Fund, Convoy of Hope, Feed the Children, The Humane Society of the United States, Samaritans Purse and World Vision. Each of these charities are on the ground right now working in relief efforts. They will all be receiving equal compensation from the fundraiser.


Wilson explained, “Personally, I am from the East Coast so [The Hurricane Sandy Relief Campaign] is a near and dear one to me. None of us knows when the next natural disaster or anything of major impact isn’t going to be in our own community. We could easily have our lives changed in a half hour. I need to give in the same way that I would hope others give back if it was my community that was being affected. It’s just a responsibility that we have as people.”


“It will take years to grow back from [Hurricane Sandy], and they need to know that the support is there for them as a country; that we are all one nation when it comes to things like this. I do think that out of hardships like this we do test ourselves, we do become stronger from those circumstances,” shared Wilson.


On November 2nd Western President Bruce Shepard sent out a mass email to Western colleagues, alumni and friends about the Hurricane Sandy Relief Campaign. The campaign was closed on November 23rd, so that funds would make their way to the selected charities in a timely manner. As of November 13th the overall Hurricane Sandy Relief Campaign had gained $24,396 from Washington State contributors. If you were not able to donate to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Campaign via WWU consider visiting FEMA.gov, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for others ways that you can contribute.