Assisting Hurricane Victims While Learning Lessons  

The Tigers group bake sale in the Campus Center

The Tigers group bake sale in the Campus Center

By Jeanne Leong

While communities affected by last summer’s hurricanes are still recovering, some Rutgers School of Business–Camden students are raising funds through a class project that allows them to do good while learning.

Seventy students in Melissa Fender’s two Organizational Behavior courses held events to raise money for hurricane relief.

Cucarachas Voladoras group face painting event

Cucarachas Voladoras group face painting event

The 14 groups of students held events that included a dodgeball tournament, bake sales, and dinners at area restaurants. Some groups also created GoFundMe accounts to raise additional funds. The classes raised a total of nearly $2,500.

Through planning and holding the events, and choosing a relief organization to receive the funds raised, the students learned project management skills that are applicable in their future jobs.

“What we’re learning in the classroom, we are immediately applying,” says Austin Willis, a junior from Willingboro. “We learned how to be a leader in a group, how to resolve conflict, and how to handle workplace disputes.”

The students made a presentation about their project, and wrote a group paper and an individual reflection paper.

As a doctoral student in 2005, Fender was enrolled in an organizational behavior class project that raised funds to aid Hurricane Katrina victims, so when Hurricane Harvey caused extensive damage in the Houston area Fender thought that hurricane relief fundraising would be an ideal way to teach her class, which covers topics such as communication, leadership, conflict management, negotiation, and teamwork.

“Then and now, it is a project with a lot more meaning than most class projects,” says Fender, an adjunct professor in the Rutgers School of Business–Camden.

The Rutgers–Camden Office of Civic Engagement assisted in facilitating the fundraisers with the class. At the end of the projects, Michael D’Italia, program coordinator of engaged civic learning, met with the class again to reflect on their work.

“How might this have shifted their attitudes in regards to their own civic advocacy and their ability to make a difference?” asks D’Italia. “Not just in their local communities, but in the national and global communities.”

Dan Rosenthal of the Rutgers School of Business–Camden Student Experience Center also supported the students by helping them create a detailed plan for their class project.

At the beginning of the class in September, the class planned to raise funds for Hurricane Harvey relief, but after Irma and Maria also caused extensive damage to Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, they decided to expand their fundraising efforts to benefit those areas as well.

“This project makes you appreciate what you can offer,” says Loraine Reyes, a first-year student from Blackwood. “It’s very exciting that all that we’re doing is going to help people.”

The proceeds from all of the events will be donated to hurricane relief not-for-profit organizations chosen by each of the teams of students. The organizations include the Salvation Army, Boots on the GroundUnidos por Puerto Rico, and Americares.

Posted in: Student Achievement

Comments are closed.