UI students organize fundraisers for typhoon victims


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Student organizations at the University of Iowa held fundraisers on Tuesday and Wednesday to help provide relief to the Philippines after the disastrous Typhoon Haiyan. Circle K, Walk It Out, and several multicultural organizations helped with the effort.

The current death toll of Typhoon Haiyan, the deadly category-5 typhoon that hit the Philippines on Nov. 8, sits at 3,980, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. This more than doubles the death toll of Hurricane Katrina, which was 1,833.

According to the Associated Press, more than 1,598 people are still missing, with more than 18,000 injured.  While bodies are still being collected from the debris, authorities are planning to rebuild the estimated 320,000 destroyed homes.

UI students have risen to the occasion, holding two different fundraisers to aid with relief.

“We want to show the world that the University of Iowa cares,” said Will Cai, the diversity liaison for the UI Student Government.

The first fundraiser was an all-day event on Tuesday created by Circle K and hosted by Buffalo Wild Wings, which will donate 10 percent of the proceeds to UNICEF. With the money, UNICEF will continue to provide food, medicine, shelter, and water to typhoon victims.

Circle K President Sophia Chen said students had a positive reaction to the fundraiser.

“When we were passing out certificates on the Pentacrest yesterday to encourage students to go, several of the students were very interested in attending, not only for Wing Tuesdays but for the cause that we were supporting,” she said.

Circle K is “a student organization that devotes its time to community service on campus, in the community, and around the world,” Chen said.

The second fundraiser was created by several different multicultural student organizations, including Walk It Out, Pi Alpha Phi (Asian interests fraternity), and the Asian American Coalition. It took place in the IMU Hubbard Commons and the River Room, and all proceeds from the daylong event will go to the Red Cross, which is providing a wide variety of humanitarian relief efforts in the Philippines.

The total amount of the donations isn’t yet available for either fundraiser, but members were optimistic about the outcome of both events.

“Honestly, I’ve been pretty happy with the turnout,” said Daniel Dai, a member of Pi Alpha Phi. “It’s been surprising, a lot of people were dropping $20s and $10s. That’s more than we could have hoped for.”

Dai said one of his fraternity brothers is from the Philippines.

“Harvey [Li] is from there,” he said. “Luckily, they’re in the northern part of the Philippines, which wasn’t hit so bad. But the impact is being felt all over the country.”

According to the CIA the GDP per capita in the Philippines is $4,100, less than one-tenth of that in the United States. This makes the Philippines especially vulnerable to natural disasters, said Brian Lai, a UI associate professor of political science.

“The real problem is they have a weak infrastructure and a relatively low economic capacity,” Lai said. “They’ll be years rebuilding, but people’s private charity can make a real difference.”

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