A group of 13 Mansfield University (MU) students are giving up a week of their semester break to go to Puerto Rico and assist with ongoing relief efforts from the two hurricanes that devastated the island in September.
“I’m looking forward to going to a different place and helping out other people,” Marc Holman, a senior Psychology and Human Resource Management major from Baltimore, Md. said. “Sometimes you have to look at the blessings that you have, because some people don’t have that immediate help or assistance. What we take for granted here, people don’t take for granted in other places.”
Led by Mail Services Coordinator Edgard “Gardy” Domenech, a native of Puerto Rico, the Mansfield contingent traveled to New York City and then flew to Puerto Rico on Wednesday.
Once there, they will work in and around Aguadilla, Domenech’s hometown, on a variety of projects including cleanup, painting and distributing and installing water filters.
The MU students will also be able participate in the celebration of Three Kings Day, the traditional Puerto Rican Christmas, on Jan. 6 and pass out presents to children.
“This makes me feel good that I’m part of this university and that the university is allowing me to do something for my people,” Domenech said. “They are allowing me to help and they are allowing me to share this experience with these students. I thank Mansfield for allowing me to do this.”
The students, who were selected from a campus-wide application and interview process, gathered on campus Tuesday afternoon for an orientation session. Interim President Scott Barton stopped in to personally thank the students for giving up part of their break to help others and to show the Mansfield Creed in action.
The students participating in the trip are Elizabeth Anderson, Katelyn Blake, Magdalena Callahan, Rachel Clark, Sara Clauto, Dana Dicamillo, Marc Holman, James Natali, Wilson Preston, Karinsa Russo, Carra Stevens, Emily Specht and Nicole Weisser.
The MU Student Government Association (SGA) is funding the flights and other transportation for the group. Each student is paying part of housing and food costs out of their own pockets.
During the fall semester, Domenech spearheaded a relief drive, collecting canned goods, water, personal hygiene items, batteries, clothing and monetary donations that have already made their way to Puerto Rico.