Ferris students are fundraising for families in need in Puerto Rico

Ferris State University students are working to raise funds to help families who are recovering from hurricane damage in Puerto Rico and Dominica. Community members wishing to donate funds can do so online on the groups’ YouCaring page. (Courtesy photo)

BIG RAPIDS — As families still try to recover from the damage caused by hurricanes, groups of Ferris State University students are working to raise relief funds.

Bulldog Love for Puerto Rico is an optional portion of an assignment in Jennifer Johnson’s geography classes, in which students teamed up for a friendly competition against one another to raise funds. Funds will be dispersed to the families of two Ferris faculty members who are living in Puerto Rico and Dominica.

“I was feeling so helpless and I thought there had to be something I can do,” Johnson said. “After the last few months, we need to be the hand that reaches out to help, not to hurt.”

Johnson reached out to Janitza Sawyer, social sciences department secretary, and Daisy Henderson, sociology instructor, and worked to add this competition to her lesson plans. She also created a YouCaring page entitled “Bulldog Love for Puerto Rico” to help raise funds. The stories of both families being helped can be found on the site. Johnson also is working with the Social Work Association to make donations tax deductible.

Students in Johnson’s classes have set up donation cans around town, are orchestrating bake sales and are using a portion of the tips they make from work to provide assistance.

“I was feeling helpless here,” said Kristen Kelly, one of Johnson’s students. “A lot of people are helping the people in Florida but not as many are helping the people in Puerto Rico. This is an opportunity to help those families.”

One of these families is Sawyer’s sister and brother-in-law, who are having difficulties purchasing the material to replace parts of their roof, which was destroyed during Hurricane Maria and left water damage in the kitchen and bathroom.

“My sister is always about giving back to the community; it’s going to be nice for the community to help her,” Sawyer said. “I know that she will be forever grateful.”

Sawyer is excited to work with Johnson on this project.

“We want our students to take what they have learned and turn it into action,” Johnson said. “We want them to have positive impacts on their communities, and right now Big Rapids is their community. By supporting them, you not only help them learn the value of such actions, but you also support the families of people who live and work in our community. This money will go straight to people who need it and will show them kindness, not only from Ferris students, but from all of our wonderful community in Big Rapids. We never know when it will be our turn to need a hand.”

The deadline for the students’ assignment is Friday, Oct. 27.

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Posted by Meghan Haas

Meghan is the city and county reporter for the Pioneer. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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