Student Group Collecting Materials For Haiti

SOCORRO, N.M. March 3, 2010 -- A group of New Mexico Tech students, led by the Engineers Without Borders interest group, will kick off a weeklong Tents Tarps & Rope Drive today, Wednesday, March 3, to assist the people of Haiti.

Austin Silva (left) and Marco Berry set up a makeshift shelter with materials similar to those being collected to send to Haiti.

Tech students constructed a temporary shelter from scrap materials in the Fidel Student Union atrium. Thestudents then staffed the shelter from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as the launching point for a week-long collection effort.  Andrew Tubesing, electrical engineering lab manager, is helping the new club become a chapter and organize the relief effort. He said he hopes the material drive will jump start interest in the new group.

The initial materials drive netted more than $170 in donations. The group will conduct another drive at WalMart in Socorro from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 10.

The student group is asking local people and businesses to donate tarps, rope, flashlights, batteries, and other materials that can be easily shipped and used to construct shelter. Tents (with ground cloth and rain fly) are also accepted, but the primary need is for lightweight materials that can be used to quickly erect durable shelter, mainly tarps and rope. The group will use the donated materials, along with purchased items, to assemble complete shelter kits that can be distributed easily to those in need.

Responding to urgent need for portable, durable shelter in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, the group will be collecting materials for immediate shipment to disaster relief groups.

Financial assistance is also needed. Some items will need to be purchased to complete the kits. Plus, it costs about $2 per pound to transport the materials from New Mexico into the hands of those in need. Material donors are asked to consider subsidizing the cost of shipping their donation at the rate of $2 per pound.

Austin Silva displays a package of emergency materials that will be sent to Haiti. The pack includes a tarp, zip ties, a flashlight, rope and utility knife.

As another option, a donation of $25 will shelter a family. This provides a complete shelter kit, including shipping costs. Each kit contains a large tarp, a rope, a flashlight, a knife, zip-ties and other supplies.

With the rainy season upon them, the need for shelter is quickly becoming urgent for the people of Haiti. Hundreds of thousands of people are left without homes after the devastating earthquake of January 18.

Donors are asked to please respond by Wednesday, March 10. Collection stations have been established on campus in the Fidel Student Union by the bookstore, in the Skeen Library entryway, and in the Electrical Engineering department (Workman Building, room 181). Financial contributions can be taken to the Electrical Engineering department or mailed to Andrew Tubesing, 801 Leroy Pl, Socorro, NM 87801. Donations can also be made on the club's website.

Engineers Without Borders is an international volunteer group that provides support in developing countries. While not a relief agency, the group has formed partnerships with various communities within Haiti to provide technical, logistical and material assistance. The newly formed Tech club is in its early stages and aims to become an official chapter of the organization. This is the club’s first service project.

For more information, call Andrew Tubesing at 575-835-5205 or Thomas Guengerich at 575-835-5617.

-- NMT --