Funds will pay for classroom trailer in Miss.
By Jake Palmateer
ONEONTA Five days and $13,000.
That is the measure of success for the Oneonta Gulf Coast Collaboration.
A coalition of State University College at Oneonta student groups and individuals went on a fundraising blitz last week to support Gulf Coast residents who are recovering from the 2005 hurricane season.
The students announced Thursday they raised more than $13,000 by selling $5 shares to fund a mobile classroom for the Southern Mississippi Migrant Education Program.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]Student Association President Jonathan Winnicki said students, staff and faculty came through for the cause.
"They did an outstanding job," Winnicki said. "By the end of the week, we did pretty well."
The students needed to raise $5,000 for a used construction trailer and at least another $7,000 to outfit it and get it transported from Oneonta to Mississippi.
The 55-foot-by-12-foot construction trailer is divided into three main sections and is intended be used to help educate children of migrant farm workers and others, Winnicki said. It will feature two classrooms, a bathroom and an office.
"People still do care," Winnicki, a senior, said. "Everybody kicked in, and we got it all." Adam Bleck, president of the Marketing Club, said the OGCC wanted those who donated to have a sense of ownership, which is why it decided to sell shares to purchase the trailer.
Those who purchased shares will have their names listed on the college website.
Bleck, a senior, said the students decided not to offer any prizes or incentives that one might find with a 50/50 raffle or other fundraiser.
"We want them to donate because they want to," Bleck said.
Last week’s effort was dubbed "Strive For Five, Purchase a Share Because You Care."
SUCO President Alan Donovan said the drive shows students can accomplish great things.
"We’re just enormously proud of them," Donovan said
Donovan said the students’ effort is especially important because they are responding to a specific need.
Donovan said SUCO students are responding to a need identified last fall when a visiting team from the Southern Mississippi Migrant Education Program said they needed office space and classrooms.
Donovan said the students who met with the team heard stories of hardship.
"I think people were very moved by their stories," he said.
Winnicki said purchasing the trailer is just one stage of the Oneonta Gulf Coast Collaboration, which sent five students to Pass Christian, Miss., in December to help with recovery efforts
During SUCO’s winter break, which begins today, about 20 students, including Winnicki and three of the students who worked in Pass Christian, will be heading to the Gulf for additional recovery efforts.
"We’re going to be hooking up with AmeriCorps and Hands On USA," Winnicki said.
Winnicki said that if everything goes according to plan, another group of student volunteers and the retro-fitted classroom trailer will head to the Gulf during spring break in April.
"We have contacted some transportation companies, and we’re waiting to hear back from them," Winnicki said.
Although the trailer was on the market for $8,000, the students are getting a break from Keiser Equipment in Livingston Manor, which has agreed to sell it for $5,000, Winnicki said.
Lowe’s has also donated some material that will be used to refurbish the trailer.
Sending volunteers and the trailer to the Gulf Coast is just the beginning, Winnicki said.
Eventually, student tutors and teaching assists could head to the region, he said.
Although Winnicki and Bleck are seniors, Donovan said many of the students involved in the project will be around next year.
"We have a long history of volunteerism," Donovan said. "I think the torch will be passed."