Luther College Chips

Organizations fundraise for victims of Hurricane Harvey

Shasa Sartin, Features Editor

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This fall, both Luther Athletics and College Ministries are raising money for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Luther Athletics collected donations at four sporting events between Sept. 1 and 4, and College Ministries will be holding a “Caf Fast” on Friday, Sept. 29.

A “Caf Fast” is when students donate a meal swipe, and the value of their meal is then collected by the student organization coordinating the fast. The money is accessible because students pay for their meals in their tuition. College Pastor Mike Blair explained the importance of service.

“[Serving others] is not only in our mission statement, but I would [say] it’s woven into the DNA of Luther,” Blair said. “It’s both particularly Lutheran and also [within] the universal dimension of the life at Luther.”

Vice President of the Student Congregation Alex Aakre (‘19) said he sees service as woven into the identity of Luther students.

“I feel [that] as Luther students, [if] we see a problem, we want to fix it,” Aakre said. “[These are] people that we’re not directly connected to, but we can still have an impact where we can still do a lot of good.”

The Student Congregation is allowed to hold one philanthropic “Caf Fast” each year. In spring of 2017, the group raised approximately $1,700 to aid students affected by President Trump’s executive order travel ban. This year, the Student Congregation felt a pull to use their caf fast for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Aakre noted how his faith lead him to that decision.

“This year it just kind of seemed perfect,” Aakre said. “This is a way that the Luther dollars and the Luther community can affect a place that we may never go. [And] very simply put, ‘love thy neighbor.’ That includes Texas.”

The money raised will be sent to the Lutheran Disaster Response. The Lutheran Disaster Response is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s relief sector. It was important to Blair that this was the organization funds were donated to because of their trustworthy reputation.

“When you give to that particular program, one hundred percent of those donations go to aid,” Blair said.

Student Athlete-Advisory Committee (SAAC) Advisor Alex Smith (‘03) echoed the idea that service is part of Luther, even on the opposite end of campus.

“[We like] anytime our athletic department can be part of something on a bigger scale, outside of sports, whether it be close to home or far away,” Smith said. “It’s much more than sports when it comes to the worldly view for us.”

The weekend of Sept. 1 — Sept. 3 there were four home athletic events. Sept. 1 was Men’s soccer vs. Colorado College, and on Sept. 2 the Women’s team played Wheaton College. The following day Men’s and Women’s soccer had  games against Washington University, St. Louis, and Knox College, respectively. The Women’s golf team also hosted a tournament on Sunday, Sept. 4 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Head Men’s Soccer Coach Chris Garcia-Prats had the idea to fundraise during the events because of his personal connection to the disaster.

“I’m originally from Houston, Texas, and so obviously it was kind of a crazy week for me,” Garcia-Prats said. “Five of my brothers and my parents still live in Houston. [I was] concerned about their well-being. Fortunately they were all okay.”

Garcia-Prats was not only deeply worried about his own family, but also for the city as a whole.

“Seeing your home community go through the devastation that they went through hits pretty hard,” Garcia-Prats said. “So, we just [tried] to do something simple to help people out.”

The idea came to fruition through collaboration with Smith and Director of Media Relations Julie Shockey-Trytten, who has also been associated with the soccer program for many years. Smith explained that it was also important for Luther Athletics to lend a hand because flooding is a shared experience between Decorah and Houston.

“What we went through last year in Decorah got to people’s minds,” Smith said. “What we had experienced was on a much smaller scale than what people in the Houston area had to deal with, but I think it did resonate with us.” 

Luther Athletics donated a total of $650 to the American Red Cross. Of that money, $500 is donations from staff members within the department, and the $150 is from the donation jars at the various home events.

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