RPI students launched RPI Relief in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, and helped lead the Rensselaer Community in fundraising. Five years later in 2010, students engaged in boots-on-the-ground service when Hurricane Irene landed in the NY Capital Region. The service campaign was named Mighty Waters, because the resulting flood waters traveled along the Schoharie Creek, the Mohawk River, the Hudson River and the Poestenkill.
Prepared to take action whenever disaster strikes, RPI Relief and Mighty Waters provide the structure for students to respond to problems using their creative resources to raise awareness about the need, fundraise for organizations which can make a difference in stricken areas, and provide direct service to those suffering from the disasters. A snapshot of past campaign highlights and results follows:
- Hurricane Katrina (2005)
- Rensselaer raised $35,000 for the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, America's Second Harvest
- Hosted 65 "Gulf Coast Visiting Scholars" from Tulane University, Xavier University and Loyola University for the fall semester
- A "New Orleans-Style" Thanksgiving Benefit Dinner was held on November 17, in the McNeil Room, to raise money for the relief efforts. Students from NOLA participated as servers and waiters.
- The Community Advocates hosted a "Reflection Wall."
- Haitian Earthquake (2010)
- Rensselaer contributed $30,000 for AmeriCares, OXFAM America, and Save the Children.
- Following the earthquake, Engineers for a Sustainable World created a sustainable bedroom for orphans and a patient ward from shipping containers
- Hurricane Irene (2010)
- Rensselaer raised $4,377.04 for the Regional Farm & Food Project, Huntersfield Christian Training Center, Schoharie Recovery, Inc., and the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York.
- In the years following the hurricane, Rensselaer made over 30 Mighty Waters service trips to help in the recovery and restoration. Over 600 students, staff and faculty participated, serving over 2000 volunteer hours.
- In 2012, 30 students participated in the 5k Run/Walk for the Schoharie Free Library
- In 2014, Mighty Waters, along with SALT [Schoharie Area Long Term] Recovery, the New York Folklore Society, the Schoharie Free Library, hosted the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Reflection on Service to collect "Stories of Hurricane Irene"
- In 2013 and 2014, Mighty Waters hosted "The Anything that Floats Boat Competition" in the Robeson Pool to raise awareness and money for the ongoing recovery efforts
- Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami (2011)
- Rensselaer raised $10,550.62 for The American Red Cross, AmeriCares, and Save the Children; in addition, Rensselaer contributed an additional $10,000 to each of these organizations.
- The Japanese club taught the community how to make sushi, and the Hawaiian Club sold Hawaiian Sushi
- Community members taught Japanese Floral Arranging, and the Shelnutt Gallery hosted a Silent Auction of small works by regional artists
- The RPI SMASH Club donated all entry fees from the SMASH FOR JAPAN: Super Smash Brothers Tournament, and from the 3rd Best Extreme Smash in Troy: Japan Relief Edition
- Hurricane Sandy (2012)
- Rensselaer raised $4,691.13 for the American Red Cross
- 16 students participated in the Mighty Waters spring break trip to Staten Island to work with All Hands Volunteers
- RPI's Got Talent - A Telethon for RPI Relief: Hurricane Sandy was sponsored by RPI Relief: Hurricane Sandy, the RPI Red Cross Club, the Class of 2015, Alpha Omega Epsilon, the Polytechnic and RPI TV. This 2 hour-long telethon featured talented students, staff and faculty performers, performing to raise money for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Though many enjoyed the performance live in person, others were able to stream it or watch it on RTN CHANNEL 3
- The Bookstore donated all its proceeds from its two historical pint glasses to the RPI Relief effort
- Typhoon Haiyan (2013)
- Rensselaer raised $4,716.56 for the World Food Programme, the Phillipine Red Cross, UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders
- PAL (Philippine American League) hosted a 5 day bake sale, selling Filipino and American desserts, snacks and food.
- Panhel held a Greek Lip Sync, and donated all proceeds.
- Nepal Earthquake (2015)
- Rensselaer raised $1,700 for UNICEF Nepal, American Red Cross - Nepal, and All Hands Volunteers
- RPI Relief hosted the "Climb for Nepal" where participants climbed the RPI Approach and entered raffle tickets to win prizes. Many thanks to the brothers of Alpha Chi Rho and Sigma Phi Epsilon for grilling hamburgers and hotdogs, and our generous donors for helping make this a successful event.
In late August 2017, Hurricane Harvey formed in the Gulf Coast and struck the southeastern coast of Texas, where it stalled and dumped records amount of rain, causing flooding in the entire region, including Houston, the fourth most populous city in the country. Just two weeks later, Hurricane Irma formed in the Atlantic, and its destructive winds destroyed everything in its path from St. Martin, Barbuda, the US Virgin Islands, the northern coast of Puerto Rico and Cuba before changing course towards Florida. Having regained strength, its destructive winds, rain, and resulting storm surge then cut across the Florida Keys and headed north through the entire state of Florida, and then into Georgia and South Carolina. The following week, this region was spared the hurricane force of Hurricane Jose, which on Wednesday, September 20 was spinning in the Atlantic Ocean 140 miles south of Nantucket Island with tropical force winds. But forming just behind Jose was Hurricane Maria, which has proven to have the most powerful winds on record. Following a similar path as Irma, the clocked 185 mph winds, rain and storm surge revisited many of the same islands as Irma did including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. However, just as Irma touched the entire state of Florida, Maria, a storm twice the size of Puerto Rico spent hours there with sustained winds of over 100 mph, dumping over two feet of rain and increasing the threat of landslides throughout and storm surge across the entire territory. The entire island of nearly 3.5 million people lost electricity.
Harvey, Irma and Maria made landfall as Category 4 hurricanes. Thanks to lessons learned from previous storms, emergency planning before Harvey and Irma helped to minimize the loss of life in their wake, but the damage caused by their destructive forces will have long-lasting human and economic impacts on the people who live in the impacted communities, as well as all Americans who have relatives living in these areas, and who depend on all the vital goods and resources produced in Texas and Florida. The experience of the Caribbean islands differs in that evacuation is not an easy option in preparation for catastrophic storms. The islands of St. Martin, Dominica, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and others, and the people who call these islands home will take years to recover from the 2017 hurricanes. By the end of 2017, only 55% of electricity had been restored to Puerto Rico.
RPI Relief: Harvey, Irma and Maria was mobilized to conduct activities within the Rensselaer Community to raise money in support of organizations working on the ground in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S.Virgin Islands, and other Caribbean islands impacted by the storms. Some organizations will be raising money for specific causes noted with their events below. Unrestricted funds raised throughout this campaign will be distributed to American Red Cross and to All Hands Volunteers.
As of December 31, 2017, the Rensselaer Community collected a total of $7,682.70 for the RPI Relief designated charities and other organizations as summarized below.
Fundraising Activities and Events
- FIJI will be selling their special "Phigammadillas" on Tuesdays beginning 10/10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Sage Concourse. Currently, quesadillas cost $2, and include cheese, salsa, peppers, and grilled chicken. Bottled water will also be sold for $1. All proceeds, including money raised in their canister at the Troy Farmer's Market on 10/7 go to RPI Relief
- Total raised = $170
- The Clubhouse Pub is collecting donations for hurricane relief during regular business hours and during special events. Your loose change makes a difference!
- Total raised = $51.08
- The School of Science Grad Student Council + BME + Chem E + Dean of the Graduate Experience hosted the annual Grad Student Halloween Party on Friday, October 27th at the Fac/Staff Dining Hall at Russell Sage. Guests were treated to pizza, Halloween treats, games, music, a costume contest and karaoke. A suggested donation of $1 for RPI Relief was accepted at the door.
- Total raised = $70
- Join RPI Circle K on Friday, October 27 from 6:30-9:30 PM for their annual haunted house as your worst nightmares become reality. Halloween lovers of all ages will see just how scary college can be, with frightening surprises at every turn that are bound to make you scream! If you are brave enough to face your fears, then join us on this unforgettable twisted journey. Tickets are $6.00 at the door, and all ticket sales will be donated to Unidos por Puerto Rico (United for Puerto Rico).
- Total raised = $800
- RPI Players will be performing The Art of Talking on Friday, October 27, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, October 28, at 2 p.m. in Academy Hall Auditorium. All concessions sold during these performances will be donated to RPI Relief.
- Total raised = $170.51
- In honor of the end of Latino Heritage Month, Alianza Latina, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, Black Student Alliance, Phi Iota Alpha, Sigma Delta, Pi Kappa Alpha, Residence Life, and RPI Dance Team are hosting a crisis relief fundraiser for the following areas effected by the natural disasters: Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Virgin Islands - Friday, October 13, from 5-7:30 p.m.! These areas have suffered greatly and are in need of resources to ensure their survival. The door fee of $7 in advance, or $9 the day of the event will get you endless dancing, aguas frescas, pernil (pork), chicken enchiladas, beef and veggie patties, rice, beans, polvorones (cookies), salad, pudin de pan, pastelon, fruit platters, and more! The entire door fee raised will be given to Students with Puerto Rico, Mexico Red Cross and USVI Hurricane Recovery. Door tickets will be available at tables in the Union in advance of the event.
- Total raised = $950.50 for Students with Puerto Rico, $950.50 for Mexican Red Cross, and $950.50 for USVI Hurricane Recovery
- Rensselaer Dining Services presents Stone Steakhouse an "elite event" on Tuesday, September 26, at the Russell Sage Dining Hall. Students with meal plans may swipe at the door and donate $5 to get a 12 ounce steak with all the trimmings. Those without meal plans can pay the $12.30 door rate + $5 for the steak dinner. All $5 donations will go directly to the American Red Cross.
- Total raised = $1,515
- Cinnabons for Relief! The Community Advocates and Alpha Chi Rho are selling a RPI Relief favorite- hot waffle Cinnabons on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Sept 27-29, at the DCC Great Hall and on Saturday, Sept 30 up at ECAV, from 9 a.m. until 12 noon each day! Each Cinnabon is $2 - get them while they are hot!
- Total raised = $176
- RPI Tutor Time will be selling candy bars on Saturdays at their two tutoring locations, at Blitman Hall and at the Lansingburgh Library, and during the week at the office location (Academy Hall 4629). All your favorites, M&M.s Skittles, Reeses, Kit Kats, and more - each for $1!
- Total raised = $104
- Hurricane Relief Bake Sale! Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Alpha Phi are having a bake sale Thursday and Friday, October 5th and 6th, at the DCC Great Hall from 10 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. each day! Money raised will support Unidos por Puerto Rico (United for Puerto Rico)
- Total raised = $350
- The following additional funds were raised during the semester:
- The Community Advocates collected $11.00 at the International Festival for RPI Relief.
- League of Legends raised $85.00 for RPI Relief.
- Habitat for Humanity sold cake pops and raised $50.00 for RPI Relief.
- The Multicultural Event raised $230.08 for Unidos por Puerto Rico (United for Puerto Rico).
- PAL (Philippine American League) conducted Project BIGAY, selling native foods outside the Union on Tuesdays through October and raised a total of $584.53 for All Hands Volunteers.
- The PakSA Charity Dinner and Performance on Nov. 18 included local restaurants donating food. PakSA raised a total of $464 for Islamic Relief USA.