Students meet goal of raising $10,000 for tsunami relief efforts

GOSHEN, Ind. – When the Goshen College community of faculty, staff and students reassembled after Christmas break, an immediate call went out from Campus Ministries to respond to the tens of thousands of tsunami victims in South Asia. The campus soon committed to support Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) tsunami relief efforts with the goal of raising at least $10,000. A month later, the goal was met – with many contributions and prayer.

To reach the goal, 140 Goshen College students skipped 542 meals in the campus cafeteria, and college food provider Sodexho-Marriott donated the meal cost towards the larger goal. In addition, 17 donation boxes were placed around campus offices, as well as at several Goshen area businesses that requested them. Money was also raised by passing a donation box during several home basketball games, a Carrie Newcomer concert on campus and during chapel, and part of the proceeds from the 2005 International Student Club Coffeehouse on Feb. 5 went towards the fundraising. Then an unexpected donation collected by the Sunday School children at Silverwood Mennonite Church in Goshen, pushing the total raised over the $10,000 mark.

Of the four students on the fundraising planning committee, two were from areas affected directly by the tsunami, including Thushan Hemachandra, a senior from Colombo, Sri Lanka. For him, the tsunami hit, literally, very close to home, though his family was safe and has become involved in relief efforts. “There was no possible way for me to be there helping out so I knew I wanted to do as much I could here to help those who are helping directly. I felt so helpless not being able to be there,” he said. “The campus response went above and beyond my expectations.”

Goshen College Campus Minister Sylvia Shirk Charles said, “It was important for us to respond because this disaster touched our campus in many ways and for persons on our campus, it is an important faith value to share from what we have with others in need. There was a lot of student energy there from the start to do something. This fundraising effort presented students with an opportunity to respond to this disaster in a direct way – to live out their faith values – and yet within their own limited means.”

Checks are still coming in and the organizers anticipate raising nearly $11,000 to give towards MCC once all is collected.

Goshen’s donations to MCC will contribute towards their commitment of more than $12 million in immediate and long-term aid to communities affected by the South Asia earthquake and tsunami. According to the MCC Web site, this is the single largest MCC response to a natural disaster in its 85-year history. MCC is also requesting 22,000 relief kits for survivors of the tsunami in Aceh province, Indonesia. Since the disaster, MCC has worked to provide emergency food, water, supplies, medical aid and trauma counseling for tsunami survivors in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka. MCC assessment teams are working with regional partner organizations to determine MCC’s continuing response. For more information about how to contribute to MCC, visit their Web site at

Goshen College, established in 1894, is a four-year residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S.News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit

Editors: For more information, contact News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or