Caribbean steel drum music filled Mary Jean Plaza as students gathered around tents that offered jerk chicken, oxtail, and curry chicken. Aromas filled students’ noses and guided them in the direction of the donations box sitting beside Bahamian flags.
Several clubs’ effort raised $1,073.19 and over 50 pounds of materials for families in need on the affected islands, Grand Bahama and Abaco. It also gained news coverage from local stations WESH, Channel 2, and Spectrum News Channel 13.
The money is going directly to Every Child Counts (ECC), a school for individuals with disabilities in Abaco.
In a campus-wide email, the Carribean Student Association (CSA) Faculty Advisor Ian Walters said, “Rollins College has had a long history of working alongside ECC where students travel to the school and serve alongside the students and the school staff.”
Donations will be used for the school’s rebuilding efforts following massive destruction, “including a newly completed transitional living facility, a donated vehicle, and all the school’s donated electronics and equipment,” said Walters.
The Bahamian archipelago that suffered extreme damage from Hurricane Dorian has its unique culture that the CSA wanted to bring to campus in the most authentic way possible.
With the help of other Rollins organizations, the CSA brought a steel drum band to campus and provided free Bahamian food dishes to students.
Funds were provided by the Student Government Association, the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement (CLCE), the Black Student Union, Cru, Voices, and the Latin American Student Association.
Jason Augustus (‘21), president of CSA, said their group first met with CLCE after Hurricane Dorian hit. CLCE wanted Bahamian students and related student organizations to partake in the planning process.
Bahamian students Katherine Graham (‘23) and Matthew Deveaux (‘23) “had a huge part in putting the event together,” said Augustus.
Augustus reached out to CLCE on behalf of CSA after the meeting “because I thought that, as a representative of Caribbean Students Association, it is our duty and pleasure to help our fellow Caribbean islands in any way we can,” he said.
CSA is active in other events throughout the year, but they mainly hold food fairs promoting culture.
“Food brings people together,” said Lauren Gray (‘21), vice president of CSA.
Augustus said there are about 20 students in the organization who represent multiple Caribbean countries, including the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Haiti, and Jamaica.
Augustus himself is from Port of Spain, Trinidad, while Gray is from Kingston, Jamaica. However, students do not have to be from the Caribbean to be a part of the organization.
Augustus said the group will no longer be providing a link to donate funds, but sites for online donations can easily be found.
Furthermore, Gray stated Bolay, a local quick service restaurant, is collecting donations at checkout for kitchens that serve food for Bahamian people in need.