Texas A&M, UT Austin Announce Fundraising Campaign For Students Affected By Winter Storm
Students in College Station and Austin last week were among millions of Texans who found themselves pivoting from one crisis to another as freezing temperatures battered the state.
Even as basic necessities are restored, students at the state’s two flagship universities have been left to navigate repairs to damaged housing and looming bill payments in the aftermath of the winter storm. Student leaders at Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin aim to help their peers recover from the disaster through a joint fundraising campaign that launched Friday. The Texas A&M community can donate through Spirit of Giving, and Longhorn Nation can donate through the HornRaiser crowdfunding platform.
Donations to “Maroon and Orange: Texas Tough” will provide relief for students affected by the crisis. Contributions to the schools’ emergency funds will help students replace spoiled groceries from power outages, along with personal items and school supplies destroyed by burst pipes, and help with bills that they may now struggle to pay.
The fundraising campaign was borne out of discussions between Texas A&M Student Body President Eric Mendoza and his counterpart at UT, Student Government President Anagha Kikkeri. They said that Aggies and Longhorns alike were greatly affected by the freeze that swept the region.
“We want the students to be able to focus on what they’re here for — which is school,” Mendoza said. “Distractions that are out of their control, like this winter storm, make that hard, especially when the impact is financial.”
Mendoza and Kikkeri said students faced similarly grim circumstances in both cities. First came the power outages, which left many without electricity and heat as temperatures plummeted. Then the taps ran dry, and pipes began to burst at apartment complexes across the state. When water treatment plants were knocked out by power failures, those who had running water were told to boil it before drinking, cooking or bathing.
Rolling power outages in Aggieland forced students to charge their cell phones in brief increments, Mendoza said, in order to maintain contact with family members elsewhere in the state. In Austin, Kikkeri said icy road conditions prevented students from leaving their homes to seek warmth or running water.
“Some students were going hungry because they didn’t have access to food,” she said. “It was a very intense situation.”
Donations to the schools’ emergency funds will directly support students through small grants. Even a small contribution can be of great help to students facing unexpected expenses, Mendoza said, whether those are groceries lost during power outages or other weather-related losses.
The 12-day crowdfunding effort will wrap on Wednesday, March 10. In the spirit of friendly competition, the school that raises the most money for Texas students in need will be announced at the March 30 baseball game between the rivals.
“This has probably been the most uniquely challenging year students have faced in a long time,” Kikkeri said. “We had so much unrest, so much hurt in the country — it just permeates throughout our lives. The winter storm was another thing added into the mix, and we see a great need for students right now.”
Students have shown “incredible resilience” during the past year, Mendoza said, “but at the same time, they do need support.”
At Texas A&M, contributions will go to the Texas A&M University Disaster Relief Fund. Originally created to assist Aggies following hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the fund has also supported students, faculty and staff with immediate needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributions will be processed quickly to get funds into the hands of university leadership with the responsibility of assessing needs.
Students seeking aid as a result of the winter storm can submit an application online.
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