Hermanos Unidos, along with several other student organizations, hosted a taco sale last Thursday at Matador Square that brought in about $700 to benefit Peruvian earthquake victims.
The group raised $500 from the taco sale and $185 in donations, said Diego Martinez, Hermanos Unidos’ treasurer.
In addition to the taco sale, donation boxes will be set up in the Oviatt Library’s lobby, where students can leave canned food, clothing, first aid kits and other items for the earthquake victims. Tents, air purifiers, bed sheets and water filters are also items that are in need because many homes were destroyed and people lack proper shelter.
“We’re just going to do our part and get the word out,” said Alex Fernandez, community service chair for the group.
Fernandez was in Tennessee when he heard about the 8.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the coast of central Peru on Aug. 15. He was training employees for the newly opened wax museum as part of his job when he received word that about 17 people were killed in the earth quake. As he caught up with the news, more than 500 had already been killed. “I couldn’t believe it,” Fernandez said.
“I called my brother and my mother” who live in Peru, but couldn’t get a hold of them because they were at work, he said. Though his family was alright, he still felt moved to help the quake victims.
“I had to do something about it,” Fernandez said. After relentless calls and text messages, Hermanos Unidos decided to hold the fundraiser, even though they only had about a week to plan it.
Cynthia Jacobos, community service chairwoman for Hermanas Unidas, the female counterpart of the organization, also heard about the earthquake the day it hit. A couple of days later, she received a text message from Fernandez, asking for help in setting up a fundraiser.
Jacobos, a junior sociology major, said, “It was for a good cause, and I told some of the girls and they were more than happy to help out.”
By about 1 p.m., about 300 tacos had been sold during the fundraiser, said Manuel Alonzo, a Chicano/a studies major who is also the cochair of Hermanos Unidos. The fundraiser was “last minute,” he said, and there were many people who didn’t buy tacos, but still donated money to the cause.
Blanca Miranda, a freshman civil engineering major who attended the fundraiser, lived in Lima, Peru until the age of 11 and last visited the country two months ago. She heard about the earthquake on the news the next day.
“I think (the fundraiser is) very good. (Peru) needs the money,” Miranda said. Many of the houses that fell were made of sand and were only designed to support one or two floors, she said, but oftentimes they’re built with three or more floors to maximize profits. Miranda also collected donations of clothing and shoes on her own to contribute to disaster efforts.
The earthquake also affected Chincha Alta, 30 miles from the epicenter, where Fernandez said he visited with his mother several years ago. The homes there had only been built with mud bricks, unlike houses in the U.S. that are supported by solid wood and materials, Fernandez said.
“You see the poverty everywhere,” Fernandez said. “They’re worse off than they were before.”
Fernandez said he wasn’t surprised that not many other students had heard about the earthquake. Many students who came to buy tacos asked about the Peruvian flags draped on their tents, he said.
“People forget,” Fernandez said, and students’ busy lives can become “so structured” that we stop paying attention to the news.
Elida Ortiz, a sophomore liberal studies major, and Marliz Briano, a sophomore business major, hadn’t even heard of the earthquake.
“I haven’t been keeping up with my news,” Ortiz admitted as she and Briano sat outside Jerome Richfield hall eating lunch. “It’s a good thing that they’re trying to raise money to help people in the earthquake, even though they’re so far away,” Briano said.
Fernandez said that “even though we came up with the idea, it’s still a group effort.” It wouldn’t be possible without the help of Hermanas Unidas, El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), and sororities Gamma Alpha Omega, Lambda Theta Nu and Phi Lambda Rho, he said.
Jose Gutierrez, a senior marketing and finance major, heard about the fundraiser and said it was “a good example for other student groups.”
“You see Latino-concentrated Greeks, but what about the religious groups?” Gutierrez questioned. The organizations hosting the fundraiser “shouldn’t stand alone,” Gutierrez said.
Fernandez also said he’d like to contact another college student group in Peru to coordinate the distribution of the money and supplies they collect.
“I feel like I kind of do have a little special interest” having Peruvian roots, Fernandez said. The earthquake, he said, was “a call for action.”
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