As one of the most destructive hurricane seasons in recent memory came to an official close on Nov. 30, Brookdale students and employees joined together in Lincroft to raise money and awareness for storm victims still struggling to recover.
Dozens of community members gathered on the Campus Gateway Path during college hour to participate in a college-wide “3K for the Caribbean,” organized by students in The Innovation Network (TIN).
The nearly two-mile walk began at the Student Life Center (SLC) and wound across Brookdale’s 220-acre Lincroft campus, before finishing on the SLC patio where entrants were offered food, refreshments, custom bracelets and a wealth of information about ongoing hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean.
“Sixty percent of Barbuda is homeless,” said TIN president and Brookdale public relations major Erika Etkine. “Ninety percent of their infrastructure is destroyed, and their prime minister says it is barely habitable… In the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria, a lot of attention was paid to impacted communities in the continental U.S. Our goal was to raise awareness for those areas that have been somewhat forgotten and do whatever we can to support them.”
The walk raised more than $560 for Habitat for Humanity’s ongoing relief and restoration efforts in the Caribbean, and TIN members also launched an online fundraising campaign to support GlobalGiving’s emergency relief fund for storm-impacted residents.
The online campaign, which will continue through Dec. 19, has so far raised an additional $300 for storm victims. Learn more about the campaign here.
“We are so thrilled and so grateful to everyone who came out and offered their support,” said Etkine.
“It was challenging and a little stressful putting this event together, but it worked out better than any of us expected. There is so much that people can do to help – from donating money or supplies to volunteering to help build homes – and we wanted to get that message out. We want people to know that they can make a difference.”
TIN, which began as a small pilot program in 2014, has grown into a college-wide initiative that allows students to earn college credit for organizing and participating in service-learning projects. A team of faculty and advisors in a variety of academic disciplines now support the program, enabling students to gain hands-on experience in fields such as marketing, business management, engineering and journalism.
Recent TIN projects include a benefit auction and student art show held last spring in support of the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Freehold and an ongoing, campus-wide “greening” initiative in Lincroft.
TIN students are also working to support the college’s Helping Hands initiative and are engaged in talks with Neptune Township to establish a community garden for local residents in 2018.
“Our students amaze me. They really do,” said associate communications professor and TIN co-advisor Deborah Mura. “They organized this walk entirely on their own, set up their own fundraising page and they are also going to donate any leftover water and snacks to Helping Hands. They are always going beyond what we expect of them, which means we really should expect more of them, so they will go beyond that. It’s just incredible.”
Learn more about The Innovation Network here.
Check out more photos of the 3K for the Caribbean event here.