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MIT collects over $23,000 to benefit Sept. 11 victims

The MIT community has donated $23,227 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund to benefit people directly affected by the airplane crashes and the collapse of the World Trade Center towers caused by terrorists on Sept. 11.

An additional $1,000 was raised by senior Jonathan White, who organized a mail-in check drive for the United Way September 11 fund through his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha.

"No amount of money can compensate those families devastated by the tragedy, but we hope that these funds and what they symbolize will help the families know that we care," said Sally Susnowitz, assistant dean and director of the Public Service Center. "And for those at MIT who gave so generously of their time and money, I hope they have gained some comfort from their efforts, a better sense of their ability to help others, an awareness of the MIT community's power to accomplish things through a unified effort, and the willingness to continue to work to assist those who remain in need," she said.

All the MIT funds, which came from students, staff and faculty, were pooled in the donation to the American Red Cross. The board of directors of the MIT Federal Credit Union also sent a generous donation, said Susnowitz.

"Our contribution carries a hopeful message about community support in general, and about the MIT commmunity's ability to work together and help where help is needed," she said.

While no one among her personal acquaintances was injured in the attacks, Susnowitz noted the deep and sweeping effects of the tragedies in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. "We all seem to be moving through stages of grieving in our own ways," she said.

Susnowitz noted the contribution of many people at MIT in the successful fundraising effort. Barbara Baker, associate dean for student life programs, helped to initiate and support the effort. Undergraduate Association President Jaime Devereaux, a junior in aeronautics and astronautics, and Graduate Student Council President Dilan Seneviratne, a graduate student in materials science and engineering, worked with the Public Service Center in contacting students to volunteer at collection sites, arranged by Phil Walsh and Mike Foley of the Campus Activities Complex.

The "spotlight" support team, led by Suzana Lisanti of Web Communications Services and supported by Vice President Kathryn Willmore, spread the word and increased participation. Campus Police Sgt. Cheryl Vossmer offered the police department safe for temporary money storage, and Deborah Fairchild, special assistant to the Dean of Students, set up an account for the funds. Various office staff and administrators offered collection site support and staffing--and as word spread, more offices offered to set up collection sites across campus.

Students, staff and faculty donated their time to collect at the various sites, and to assist in other ways. Aramark supported the collection effort with buckets at registers around campus. Daniel Yoo, community service chair of the InterFraternity Coucil, collected house contributions. Public Service Center staff supported the effort throughout.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 31, 2001.

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