Typhoon Haiyan survivors receive donations and support from Essex County College

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NEWARK, NJ, Dec. 19 -- In the wake of the devastation in the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan on November 8, the Essex County College (ECC) community banded together to create the Philippine Relief Drive.


“I am both gratified and humbled by the incredible outpouring of support for the typhoon victims. As a proud alumna (Class of 2012) of ECC, I am well aware of the generosity of our students and staff when it comes to helping those truly in need,” said Nicole Rapista, who grew up in the Philippines.

The College’s Urban Issues Institute (UII) served as the coordination point for the relief drive, which began in earnest a week after the typhoon struck, leaving more than 5,000 dead and an estimated 12 million people directly affected. The planning committee was composed of students, faculty, administration, staff and the local Filipino community.

 “We are a (local) community college, but we are global in nature,” said Margaret Stevens, Director of the UII.  “Staff and students from nearly administrative and academic wing of the college donated clothing items.  In addition, students from nearly every club contributed to our collecting funds for our Red Cross drive.” 

In a few short weeks, more than a 1,000 items were donated by students and staff throughout the College, as well as monetary donations. Donations cans from the American Red Cross, emblazoned with “ECC Cares” labels, were scattered throughout both the main Newark campus and the West Essex campus in West Caldwell. Additional cans for cash donations were also scattered about the campuses. The Inter-Club Council representing various student organizations oversaw the cash donations.

“We had classes where everyone, including the instructor, contributed to the effort,” said Shawn Yearwood, Student Government Association vice president.  “I was so impressed with the generosity of students and staff alike.”

Jamil Graham, Student Life & Activities Office program coordinator, was also impressed by the collective effort. “Once again, the ECC family has come through to provide much needed humanitarian relief to those struck by a tremendous natural disaster,” Mr. Graham said.  “You can always count on the generosity of the entire College community and it makes me proud to be a part of the family here.”

Ms. Rapista was scheduled to travel to Cebu/Leyte the week of December 16 to assist in the rebuilding of destroyed schools and hand out relief goods.

“As this effort demonstrates, something about pulling together in times of human crisis brings out people’s most humane qualities, and that’s why the Urban Issues Institute here at ECC made such an effort to respond deliberately and maximize outreach by calling upon the college as a whole to coordinate and work together,” said Professor Stevens. “I hope in the future we can be even more proactive and build an even broader coalition for the common cause of civic engagement and humanitarian support.” 

Working as a well-organized team, the Essex County College community have banded together to create a Philippine Relief Drive to help the survivors of the Typhoon Haiyan.

“My [MS] aunt also lost their house. There is no communication line to the areas – I have not spoken to them yet. There is no food and safe water, no electricity. Peace and order is of vital importance to establish because there is much looting and holdups, especially for goods – people’s quest for survival,” said Majuvy Sulse, President of the Philippine Nurses Association of New Jersey.  “The rescue operations are in the big cities.  We are about 30 minutes away from the city and relief has not reached us yet as per friends who I have talked to in Facebook and text.”

Survivors are in dire need of clothing, socks, canned goods, blankets, water, food and other emergency assistance. The Consulate General of the Philippines in New York also listed water purifiers, water containers, tents, pillows, towels, hygiene kits, cooking apparatus and utensils, power generators and medical supplies as necessary to help survivors.

The Philippine Relief Committee set up boxes throughout Essex County College to collect donations in at least 13 locations on campus.  All boxes have images on them, clearly stating their purpose.  Over 36 cans were distributed and filled to benefit the American Red Cross.

Over a thousand donated items were collected.  Donations include boys wear; girl wear; infant wear; women wear; men’s and women’s shoes; children’s sneakers; women’s pants and shirts; men’s wear; girls’ wear; and miscellaneous. All donations collected by the ECC community were brought to UII. They were sorted, labeled, and packed in boxes.



Essex County College is an open access community college that serves the diverse needs of students through comprehensive educational programs, training, and continuing education. Essex County College is dedicated to academic excellence and the success of its students.