The sun has long since set, but the conference room on the third floor of the University Center is brimming with energy. A steady flow of students enter the room, many having to stand, as Rotimi Abimbola calls the emergency meeting to order. Abimbola, the student body president, is impressed by the turnout on a moment's notice. Once everyone is settled, the senior political studies major begins the meeting by giving a brief update of the somber news from Haiti. The 7.0 earthquake was just two days ago; the roads and ports remain impassible. It's already clear from news reports that there will be an overwhelming need for help, which is exactly what Abimbola is hoping to orchestrate.
For more than an hour, the group of 28 leaders from myriad Carnegie Mellon organizations brainstorm ways to raise awareness, money, and supplies for Haiti. The session produces the scaffolding for humanitarian activities that would soon permeate the Pittsburgh campus. Helping Haiti week launched, in true Carnegie Mellon style, with a fresh coat of paint on the Fence. Candlelight vigils and prayer services followed. The biggest push for Haiti, however, would come from A Dollar Campaign. The fundraising plan worked once before for Hurricane Katrina. The premise is simple: try to collect one dollar from every student, staff, and faculty member at Carnegie Mellon. After Hurricane Katrina, students collected $4,000. Everyone at the University Center meeting agreed to have a dollar campaign once again for Haiti. Abimbola even helped get the donations matched dollar-for-dollar by some philanthropic alumni and faculty members.
In just a few weeks, more than $10,000 was raised. "There was no need to convince people to help," says Abimbola. "We just gave them the opportunity to do something for Haiti."
That emergency meeting, held 48 hours after the devastating earthquake, also helped spread the word to other organizations on campus. Abimbola's classmates went back to their respective student organizations with ideas—immediately, fundraising containers started popping up in dormitories and dining halls. In a few days, students all over campus were wearing Helping Haiti stickers and bracelets as the fundraising continued throughout the spring semester in conjunction with Hospital Albert Schweitzer; Doctors Without Borders—Haiti; Brother's Brother Foundation; and YELE Haiti earthquake fund.