Two college students took their post on the northeast corner of Shaw and Cedar avenues early Monday morning with the same goal â€“â€“ to raise funds for the victims of the southern California wildfires.
About 25 people from Fresno State sororities and fraternities took turns covering major intersections leading into campus from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. collecting donations that will go to the American Red Cross.
With a collection jar in her hand, Lauren Kwiatkowski from Kappa Kappa Gamma spread the word as her fellow sorority sisters held up signs. For Kwiatkowski, the fires hit close to home. Having come from the Rancho Bernardo area in San Diego, she knows several people who have been devastated by the fires.
â€œI grew up there, a bunch of my friends were involved,â€ Kwiatkowski said, sharing that it motivated her to do something about it.
Seeing the amount of loss, she was inspired not only to get involved â€“â€“ but to make it a group effort. When she approached the sorority and fraternity houses, they were all willing to help.
Kwiatkowski wasnâ€™t alone in having family and friends affected by the fire. For Sigma Chi Public Relations Chair sophomore Jared Buccola, San Diego is his hometown, and he felt the call to help. Standing on the Southeast corner of Shaw and Cedar avenues, he held up a bucket and got to work collecting.
â€œMy family is OK, they havenâ€™t been evacuated yet,â€ Buccola said, but shared that he still felt the impact. â€œ[I want to] give back to my hometown.â€
To Kwiatkowski, the number of people who answered the request, like Buccola, impressed her because she just recently pulled the whole event together.
â€œ[It was] a lot of people for late notice,â€ Kwiatkowski said.
As for her post on Shaw and Cedar, Kwiatkowski said that the giving was pretty steady and generous throughout their three hour collection. Their work translated to collecting an estimated $500 in a three-hour period.
â€œMost people gave one dollar, some gave a couple [of dollars],â€ Kwiatkowski said. There were also bigger donations, but she is in the process of finding out what the final number is.
Buccola had the same experience at the other corner of the intersection.
â€œWe had $150 in one bucket,â€ Buccola said, adding that even when people werenâ€™t donating, they were getting involved. â€œThere were a lot of people that we saw. Even if people didnâ€™t stop, there was a lot of interaction.â€
After Kwiatkowski collects all of the money from the houses and gets the final count, she has plans for sending it out. She said that she plans to give the money directly to the American Red Cross, as well as looking to see if there might be certain relief efforts she can donate it to within the organization.
As for the experience, Buccola said that the collections were successful not only for the money, but for the understanding of the seriousness and importance of relief for the southern California fires.
â€œPeople had a lot of respect for what we were doing,â€ Buccola said.