After category four hurricanes Harvey and Irma bulldozed a path of destruction, Leo Brother ’18 and Sydney Olney ’18 raised nearly 1,000 dollars for the United Way Hurricane Relief Fund. According to United Way official website, the nationwide recovery fund gives agency to the communities who receive the money.
“We picked UW because the fund isn’t focused on one specific resource, rather it puts the money into the communities so that those affected can decide what they need and how the money should be spent,” wrote Brother in an email to The Phillipian.
Brother and Olney set up a table at Paresky Commons last week to accept donations for the victims of natural disasters. Both found inspiration in Andover’s motto, Non Sibi.
“I’m from New York, so I went through Hurricane Sandy. I was not hit very badly. The worse I had was no power for two weeks. But there were two boys in our district who were killed by a falling tree. So those two deaths were multiplied several times in the casualties of Hurricane Irma inside and outside of their impact of the U.S., so it just really felt necessary for me to reach out,” said Olney.
Brother spent a week worrying whether or not his grandparents in Naples, Florida would lose their house as a result of Hurricane Irma.
“I saw the devastation that happened in Houston [and] around the time we saw Hurricane Irma heading for the west coast of Florida. I started to panic… that people who were really important in my life had a chance of losing everything they had. I realized there was a need for action, [so] I rallied around that [idea] and got the community involved,” Brother said in an interview with The Phillipian.
In early September, Brother put an announcement on the Senior class Facebook page asking if anyone else was interested in starting a Hurricane Relief Fund. This post caught Olney’s attention.
“I had already been researching the idea by myself for the past few weeks so [Leo’s post] was really perfectly timed,” said Olney. “We worked with Mr. Capano, who gave us resources necessary to carry out a fundraiser, and he got us everything that we needed to set up. We also talked to Ms. Scofield to get a Blue Card scanner because we knew not a lot of people would be carrying around cash.”
Christopher Capano, Director of Student Activities, said, “I think it is great that [Brother and Olney] think outside of just the Andover community and are trying to help out the larger world. The last few hurricanes have been horrible tragedies for different countries and states and the fact that they were thinking of a way [to make] that a little better is fantastic.”
All donations will be sent to the United Way, an organization that “fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community,” according their official website. Although a national organization, United Way aims to act in local communities through various projects and partners.
“A lot of people across the country are going through the Red Cross because it’s more universal, but what we heard from people in our grade who live in the area and other sources that the Red Cross is one of the more inefficient charities… meaning that a lot of the money that gets donated does not actually end up where it needs to be,” said Brother.
Brother continued, “[With the United Way], we can put all the money in one place, and it will get divided up equally between different United Way branches in Houston, the coast of Florida and the Keys, and the places that need it most. [It’s] in a more local setting where the people have more say in where the money goes.”
Some money from Sunday’s Quad Day was also added to the overall donation.
“I’ve never been involved in any sort of collection of this level, but we’ve come close now to raising about 1,000 dollars and we’re going to get hopefully more,” said Brother. “We are also talking with the cluster councils in Flagstaff and Pine Knoll because the admissions from the Halloween dance every fall gets donated to some charity. We’re hoping that we can get those funds to go into our United Way fund before we get that donated.”
Olney said, “Andover is a community that is very wealthy. So knowing that we didn’t have a fund going on when so many of us have so much to give, it felt wrong in a way, especially because our school motto is Non Sibi. What is more Non Sibi than helping those who seriously [need] that help.”