Some students are asking you to forsake your candy money to help those living in the wake of war.
Several members of UCSB’s Student Coalition for Peace (SCP) staked out a spot in front of the UCen this week where students can donate spare change for the Iraqi humanitarian aid effort. Students will collect donations at a kiosk in front of the UCen through Friday. Although the kiosk formed from an anti-war organization, those collecting the donations say no political or religious agenda underscores the effort.
Helen Theung, a sophomore global studies and law and society double major, serves on the SCP Domestic Issues Committee, which encourages involvement of students and locals in issues like humanitarian aid. She said the donation drive gives all students an opportunity to help.
“We’d support this no matter who began it. Regardless of whether a person is pro-war or anti-war, the war happened and now the people who were living in Iraq need help,” Theung said.
Rain prevented collection Monday, but Theung said the group’s first day total Tuesday was around $60.
“It’s been okay. People have been dropping off a few bucks when they can,” she said.
Brian Cruz, a senior computer science major who was trying to get passing students to lend some spare cash for the cause, said people have been receptive.
“People can see what we’re trying to do. They’ll give us some money after they’re done at Jamba Juice.”
Those collecting donations are seeking at least $2 from each person, the cost of one day of proper medical support for an Iraqi citizen.
“We’re only asking for the money you’d spend on candy at the Corner Store. $2 is enough to give an Iraqi child [what he or she] would need to get through the day,” Theung said.
The money gathered during the week will go to two agencies working with the Coalition: Life for Relief and Development, and Direct Relief International.
Life for Relief and Development, a non-governmental consultant organization within the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, was founded by Muslim Americans in 1993 in response to the Gulf War. The group has since broadened the scope of its aid to include any group of people needing such assistance, but presently has members stationed within Iraq rebuilding schools, medical clinics and water treatment facilities. Life for Relief and Development also operates hospitals in Baghdad and Basra.
Abdul Ghafoor, special event coordinator for Life for Relief and Development, said future donations will go toward the development of long-range improvements like orphan care and computers but that money raised by campus donations would fund emergency relief.
“All money right now is going to the emergency effort,” he said. “Currently, we need a lot of medical supplies and food and other necessities.”
Direct Relief International was established in 1948 as an apolitical program providing humanitarian aid regardless of the political persuasion of the recipient. Although not yet in Iraq, members of Direct Relief International are attempting to enter, and, in the meantime, are financially supporting similar reconstruction.
Theung said the plight of Iraqis trying to recover from the war is a cause all students should keep in mind.
“We’re supporting life and showing some compassion. The country is in ruins and we should be helping those people start again,” she said.
Those wishing to make an extra effort to help can also assemble their own hygiene kit in conjunction with the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group. The kits, which should include four bars of soap, a 24 ounce bottle of shampoo, a toothpaste tube, four adult size toothbrushes, a hairbrush, a comb, a nail clipper and a box of adhesive bandages, can be sealed in a plastic zip-lock bag and delivered to the same kiosk.