VSG hosts Hurricane Ida donation drive

VSG collected non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies and masks to support Louisiana State University students who were affected by the hurricane.

student putting stuff in a bucket outside Rand for the donation drive

Virginia Richards

Student contributes to the VSG Hurricane Ida donation drive, as photographed Sept. 23, 2021. (Photo Courtesy of Virginia Richards)

Aaditi Lele, Staff Writer

From Sept. 20-24, VSG held a donation drive to support Louisiana State University (LSU) students affected by Hurricane Ida. The drive took place at the Rand Wall but later relocated to Sarratt Promenade due to rain. 

Virginia Richards, VSG officer of active citizenship and service, said the idea for the donation drive was conceived when Chandler Black, LSU’s student body chief of staff, reached out to SEC schools asking for assistance in the aftermath of the hurricane. As a result of Hurricane Ida, over 800,000 Louisiana residents lost power, including parts of the LSU campus. While it suffered minimal damage, the campus was closed for three days, during which many students returned to badly damaged homes throughout the state. 

Bowman Talbot, a sophomore from Madisonville, LA, spoke to The Hustler about Hurricane Ida’s effect on his hometown. Talbot is a staff writer for the Sports section of The Hustler and serves as a VSG second-year senator. 

“This time, unlike Katrina, my family got lucky,” Talbot said. “We were without power for a week and had minor roof damage. Many in my hometown were not so lucky.”

Talbot expressed gratitude toward VSG for initiating the donation drive and not allowing affected students and Louisiana residents to get lost in the shuffle. 

“When I saw the email about VSG’s Donation Drive to LSU students, I was honestly surprised. I was surprised anyone still cared,” Talbot said. “Everyone saw the photos of New Orleans’ flooded streets, but many forgot everyone else, especially now that the majority of FEMA and Red Cross operations have ended. It was nice to not feel forgotten during a disaster for once, and I have VSG to thank for that.”

Richards stated she contacted Black to obtain a list of items that LSU students needed, which included tarps, non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies and monetary donations for their student relief emergency fund. Per Richards, the items most frequently donated were non-perishable foods, masks and cleaning supplies. 

“We’ve had a substantive number of donations, which we’re really happy about,” Richards said. 

In addition to the donations collected from students, VSG will also be utilizing an undetermined amount of its funding to order additional relief supplies in bulk via Amazon to ship directly to LSU students in need.

The donation drive was entirely volunteer-run with VSG members signing up for shifts to oversee it. Per Richards, through efforts like these, VSG hopes to encourage Vanderbilt students to engage in service and active citizenship beyond campus. 

“I hope that the students at LSU are able to utilize these resources to the best of their abilities and have at least one thing less to worry about, considering the aftermath of the hurricane,” Richards said. “We have so many opportunities at our disposal to give back and use these university resources to help out people that are affected by the consequences of climate change, income inequality and racial inequality.”