Many Penn State students have been collecting donations for all the hurricanes hitting the country, but one group of friends is making its way down to Houston, Texas to bring relief first-hand to the survivors of Hurricane Harvey.
When the news of the devastating aftermath in Houston first broke, Brian Davis independently began a collection of toiletries for Harvey victims with some friends.
Davis (senior-African American studies) and his friends were extremely upset with the aftermath of the storm. Their collection began Aug. 29.
Although the collection is over now, Davis and his friends gathered items in the Paul Robeson Cultural Center — accumulating over 70 pounds of blankets, pillows and toiletries for the victims of Harvey.
There will be two trips to Houston this academic year, one during Thanksgiving break, Nov. 20-26, and the second during spring break, March 5-11.
Both trips will get to Texas via car, driving over 24 hours to bring all 70 pounds of items with them.
As Hurricane Harvey continues to devastate Texas, I stand with my family there. While I’m in college, my parents are in Houston helping victims.
This is the second time Davis has collaborated with others to pull off an event like this. The first was when he joined 22 students to bring 5,000 bottles of clean drinking water to Flint, Michigan, in March 2016.
Davis was not the only person with the idea to go on this trip.
Both Davis and Kelli Dowd, the program coordinator for service and leadership in the Student Activities Office , came up with the idea.
“We were very devastated by what has transpired there,” Davis said. “We were immediately thinking of the possibilities of what we could do to help them.”
Others who knew Davis also reached out to see what a leader like him would do to help the cause and how they could help.
One of those people was Sean Babalola.
Babalola (junior-political science) came to Davis with the idea to do something for Harvey, not yet knowing Davis and Dowd were already brainstorming.
Babalola also has family and friends in Houston, now planning to attend the trip in November.
Being new to the campus, Babalola was extremely pleased by how many people came together to help out with the initiative, seeing how much Penn State seems to enjoy giving back.
Babalola said he considers Davis a mentor.
Those who know Davis are extremely impressed with his accomplishment to make this trip to Texas happen.
Last year, Corey Crews-Williams lived on the floor that Davis was an RA, and they became friends through the close proximity.
Crews-Williams (junior-energy engineering) was also familiar with Davis from his presence in social justice events held on campus.
In terms of Davis’ involvement with Hurricane Harvey, Corey said there “are so many college students who want to go out and help, but of course there are so many other tasks at hand, so being able to sacrifice time for a cause such as this is highly respectable in my opinion.”
Davis explained how he wants to emphasize to the student body that just because Houston is over 1,500 miles away, that does not mean Penn State cannot help.
Similar to Davis and Babalola, various Penn State students have connections in Houston and room to give back.
Penn State UNICEF, Penn State Black Graduate Student Association, PSU Eco Action, 3rd Way Collective , Penn State NAACP Chapter, PSU APAC and other organizations on campus are involved in these efforts.
“It’s important for us to help those in need because our Penn State values called us to action,” Davis said. “WE ARE Penn State, and WE ARE Texas, too.”