Students and alumni unite to help Haiti

by Shannon Chapla


University of Notre Dame students and alumni are teaming up this fall to educate the campus about Haiti, one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world, and collect desperately needed clothing to send there.

The month-long project titledPoorest of the Poor: A Call to Solidarity- Round Table Discussions and A Clothing Drive for Haitiwill begin Sept. 30.

The Universitys sophomore, junior and senior classes are organizing lectures, which will feature experts on Haiti from campus and abroad leading four discussions in McKenna Hall.The topics are:Why Haiti?from 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 30 (Tuesday), health and education in Haiti from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 5 (Sunday), Haitian culture from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 16 (Thursday), and environment from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 27 (Monday).

In addition, documentaries on Haiti will be screened at 7 p.m. in the Carey Auditorium of the Hesburgh Library.The Price of Sugarwill be shown Oct. 15 (Wednesday) andThe Road to Fondwawill be screened Oct. 29 (Wednesday).

The series of awareness events is designed to educate the Notre Dame community on the poverty existing in Haiti to promote participation in the clothing drive.

Gently used spring and summer clothing and footwear will be collected at the Alumni Hospitality Center in the Joyce Center during the Stanford and Pittsburgh football game days (Oct. 4 and Nov. 1) and throughout October at the Eck VisitorsCenter.Student clothing collections will take place Oct. 27 to Nov. 9 in residence halls and at other locations on campus.

We hope this effort becomes a model for global relief activities for our students and alumni,said Katie Zakas, director of service for the Alumni Association.It demonstrates a way to send resources to another country without a lot of money involved. Its awesome to unite students and alumni in Notre Dames mission of service.

Additional information, including a list of speakers and clothing drop-off locations, is available at .

While its nothing unusual for a college campus to host a lecture series or a clothing drive, this particular effort was inspired by Mother Teresa.

Paul Wright, a 1972 Notre Dame graduate and former cardiologist for Mother Teresa, first requested a meeting with her because he had begun to feel he was missing his true calling in life.He asked her how we would be judged upon our deaths, and she replied that the question had a very simple answer found in Matthew 25, which tells of judgment day.She reminded him of Jesuswords:When I was hungry you fed me…when I was naked you clothed me.

A highly successful physician, Wright, the former chief cardiologist at St. Josephs Hospital in Warren, Ohio, had achange of heart,left medicine and currently is devoting his time, energy and resources for service to the poor.

Last April, while speaking at a medical ethics seminar he initiated at Notre Dame, Wright met senior Erin Wash, a biochemistry major who plans to go to medical school.He told her the story of how he met Mother Teresa and how she changed his life, and described his plans for a student/alumni clothing drive to help eradicate nakedness in Haiti.Wash, a member of the Class of 2009 Class Council who just had been elected Hall PresidentsCouncil co-chair, was inspired and signed on to lead the project.

In the past month, four tropical storms have wreaked havoc on the island of Haiti, forcing residents to their roofs to escape flooding and leaving more than 300 people dead,Wash said.I dont think my participation in this necessary service project is coincidence.

Although interested in medicine for most of her life, Wash, this year, made the decision to pursue it as a career.And, as the students and alumni strive toward their goal of sending 25,000 pounds of clothing to Haiti, Wash hopes to make the event a Notre Dame tradition.

We would like to make it an annual student and alumni project,she said,until the poor do not lack clothing.

Contact: Erin Wash, , Katie Zakas, 574-631-6723,

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