Contact: Wendel Sloan at 575.562.2253
Reporter: Robin Haislett
PORTALES – Eastern New Mexico University fosters more than learning, it is also home to students dedicated to helping those in need.
Lawrence Baker, a senior communications student from Portales and Dumas, Texas, is spearheading an effort to donate goods to the children impacted by the devastating tornado that decimated the town of Joplin, Mo.
Baker lived near Joplin, Mo. for a few years. While watching the news he was shocked “to just see everything gone. It made me think how hard it must be for a kid to understand that for no reason at all, the wind just took everything in his or her life away,” says Baker.
Baker is asking that the donation of goods for children – not monetary – be dropped off at the Communication Building on the south end of the ENMU campus through Friday, May 27 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Baker suggests items such as stuffed animals, diapers, hand sanitizer, blankets, clothes, toys, games and anything that would “make this devastating situation easier on a child.”
Since immediate emergency services are better equipped for helping with food, water and shelter, Baker wanted to help provide physical goods to children to add a little light in a very dark time for them. “Seeing them interview families standing with their small children in front of the piles of rubble where their houses used to be, that these little ones have nothing now,” says Baker. “I thought about how good life is to me right now; it really wasn't a choice. I realized I had to do something, anything I could, to try and make it just a little easier on them.”
The items will be picked up and shipped to Little Sunshine Preschool in Springfield, Mo. and hand delivered to the children of Joplin.
Patti Dobson, chair of the department of communication, is helping Baker with the effort. She says that helping others is also a way to keep everyone grounded and that the world is bigger than our small corner of it. “People in this area have big hearts. When asked to help, they step up,” says Dobson.
Dobson says she has been greatly moved by the students’ dedication and willingness to donate to those in need. “I had an email from a student yesterday who said that he had a couple extra bucks and was going to bring some crayons and coloring books; and then, he apologized for not being able to do more. I had to wait a bit before responding. Here’s a kid living paycheck to paycheck, who found a little bit of cash to buy something to send. How beautiful is that? I’m humbled,” says Dobson.
Baker and Dobson sent out notifications via Facebook, email lists and community groups to encourage donations for the children. “I can’t fathom what those kids are going through right now. Last night, I watched the rescue efforts on CNN; and while I watched, the sirens blew again in Joplin. I can’t fix what happened; but, maybe I can help bring a little joy back to those kids,” says Dobson.
To donate money to the victims of the Joplin tornado can do so through the American Red Cross, Americares, Convoy of Hope, Feeding America, United Way, Salvation Army and World Vision. Their individual websites have donation pages and contact information regarding the relief effort.