Seeing copious amounts of blue on Seton Hall’s campus is nothing out of the ordinary, but on Sept. 13, Seton Hall students, professors and alumni donned their usual Pirate blue for a cause.
The Division of Volunteer Efforts [DOVE]’s Go Blue for Hurricane Relief encouraged Pirates on campus and nationwide to donate $5 and wear blue to stand in solidarity with the victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Michelle Peterson, director of DOVE, said that, though the the program initailly started for just Harvey, it has broadened to include Irma victims, the initiative remained the same.
“Whenever a disaster happens, DOVE is charged with providing a response from the University and we always like it to be a bigger approach,” Peterson said.
DOVE’s plan to aid hurricane victims was so widespread that several departments on campus offered to help.
“I coordinated with public relations and marketing, media relations, alumni communications, athletics, and various other departments. The goal is, as one Seton Hall community, to respond in one coordinated way,” Dan Nugent, assistant vice president for Advancement Services, said.
According to Nugent, for all those involved in the planning and execution of the fundraiser, the day was a tremendous success and exceeded their expectations. He remembered a time during the day where he sat in the University Center and was struck by the amount of support the fundraiser received.
“On campus, the response was better than I had hoped, and it was impressive to sit in the University Center and see students going by,” Nugent said. “And, it continued through the men’s soccer game that night.”
Peterson explained that both students and parents were moved by the effort, requesting that the Uiversity continue fundraising after the designated period.
“At the men’s soccer game, there was a pep rally and many athletes came and solicited donations,” Peterson added. “A parent thought it was such a beautiful expression that she asked us to mimic it at the women’s soccer game on Sunday.”
She said that the cash donations totaled more than $4,000. Additional funds were directly donated to Catholic charities online. The charities use 100 percent of the donations towards direct assistance, rebuilding and healthcare services in both Texas and Florida.
Christine Kotowski, a junior social and behavioral sciences major, is involved in DOVE’s Go Blue Day through her involvement in campus ministry. “As the day progressed, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen or how the students were going to respond, but they did not disappoint,” Kotowski said. She added that she was impressed by the spiritual support that Seton Hall had to offer during the Mass of the Holy Spirit.
“In that moment we all came together with students, faculty and administrators to not only help others financially, but we offered up prayers and petitions to those who were affected,” she said.
However, the support was not limited to SHU’s campus. Nugent said that throughout the day, University Advancement received hundreds of calls and emails from alumni across the country who said they were proudly wearing blue and donating to the cause. “There [were] alumni around the world posting on social media using the Seton Hall hashtag and wearing blue,” Nugent added.
One student who experienced the impacts of Harvey firsthand is Layla Ogletree, a sophomore physics and mechanical engineering major from Houston who was at home when the hurricane hit.
She was two weeks late to school due to being evacuated, but she said she immediately felt support from the SHU community, not only on Go Blue Day but also before she traveled to campus.
“When I was in the shelter, housing called me and asked me what was going on,” Ogletree said. “I received several calls and emails asking if I was okay.”
“Even though it was a terrible situation, it was warming to know people were halfway across the country wanting to help out from several states away,” she explained.
Ogletree went on to say how much DOVE’s Go Blue Day means to her and her community, which was completely flooded by Harvey.
“There’s thousands of students, and when something happens, you don’t expect the school to say that they’re behind you,” she said. “It was heartwarming for them to reach out.”
Alyssa Schirm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.