GVSU public health program to hold benefit for hurricane victims

GVL / Courtesy - facebook.com

GVL / Courtesy – facebook.com

Ty Konell

Although local students at Grand Valley State University may not have to worry about natural disasters during the school year, the rest of the country is not as fortunate. Following the destruction of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, the GVSU master of public health (MPH) program is teaming up with Grand Rapids-based Creston Brewery and SEARCH Homeless Services to raise funds for those who have been affected by the storms.

The event, happening Thursday, Sept. 14, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Creston Brewery, will focus on curating and putting together hygiene kits and fundraising.

“Many people in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean have been greatly affected by these large-scale weather events in the last two weeks,” said Ranelle Brew, associate professor for the public health program, chair of the department of public health and program director. “Public health students wanted a way to reach out and help with relief efforts from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and get the community involved, too.” 

Brew said this event would be an opportunity for those who want to help but may not know how.

“Many people are asking and wondering how they can help,” Brew said. “While large non-profit organizations are collecting donations, such as the American Red Cross, this is a local event that will have a direct impact. It allows Grand Rapids residents and GVSU students to come together for a common cause in providing aid to hurricane victims.”

At the event, coordinators will be collecting toiletries, such as travel-size shampoo, bars of soap and body wash, toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, hand sanitizer, lip balm, Kleenex and quart-size Ziplock bags.

“People should attend if they want to help out in some way, if they feel like they don’t know what to do or what is helpful,” said Samantha Radecki, a public health student and one of the event coordinators. “It’s easy: We are putting together hygiene kits to serve the homeless. A little can go a long way and SEARCH, the organization we are partnering with, is so grateful.”

The GVSU MPH program, along with its student organization, Public Health Society, coordinated the event. 

“Students in our program will be donating items for personal hygiene kits and assembling them at the hurricane relief event on Thursday, Sept.14, at Creston Brewery,” Brew said. “Public Health Society and Creston Brewery have both made a financial contribution to this effort as well.” 

From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Creston is hosting an event to assemble the kits, while one dollar for every beverage sold will go toward the effort.

Radecki said it may be easy to get caught up in the most recent news pertaining to drastic weather but that it is important not to forget about the victims in Houston living with the after-effects of Hurricane Harvey.

“Though Hurricane Irma has stolen the recent headlines, Harvey’s victims are still suffering and need help and support,” Radecki said. “This is about showing compassion and helping others when faced with tragedy. That, to me, seems pretty important.”

For more information on the event, contact Creston Brewery at 616-805-4523.