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Students fundraise to aid Mexican hurricane relief fund

After Mexico faced severe storms and flooding in September, students from the Boston University Mexican Student Association joined Mexican groups from other Boston-area colleges to launch an online campaign and hold a fundraiser to raise money for hurricane relief at Harvard University Wednesday.

“When we heard that millions of Mexicans were undergoing all kinds of hardships due to the hurricanes, we all wanted to contribute in whatever way we could,” said BU Mexican Student Association Co-President Julian Lijtszain. “We wanted to show that the Mexican students here in Boston are committed to the cause and we’re willing to do our part.”

Former First Lady of Mexico Margarita Zavala and former Secretary of Health of Mexico Julio Frenk, who is currently the dean of Harvard School of Public Health, attended the fundraiser and spoke about the current situation in Mexico. A silent talent auction also took place, where people volunteered their abilities in order to raise funds.

Students launched a website, www.aidmexico.org, as a platform to raise money for the Mexican Red Cross  in order to help Mexican families that have been affected by flooding from the hurricanes.

“We managed to get the whole campaign going in a little more than a week, which is amazing considering how much work had to be done and the complicated schedules that we all had,” Lijtszain, a College of Arts and Sciences junior, said.

Students from BU, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University and Berklee College of Music were all involved with the planning of the event.

“It was also great to see everyone working together for the cause, freshman students from our very own Boston University discussing their ideas with Berklee musicians or a Harvard post-doctorate,” Lijtszain said. “Everyone had something to say and everyone else was eager to listen. It was truly amazing.”

Vice President of the Harvard Mexican Association of Students Thalia Porteny, one of the main organizers of the fundraiser, said $3,000 in donations have been made online. The fundraiser was arranged to provide additional funding for AidMexico.

“The Mexican students of Boston got together because we decided we really wanted to do something to help those affected by the hurricanes in Mexico,” Porteny, a second-year graduate student in the Harvard School of Public Health, said. “We were very worried because in reality, people here in the U.S. know very little about it. It hasn’t been getting press, and word hasn’t been getting around.”

Entries in the silent auction included novelties such as tequila tastings and music lessons, Porteny said.

“Having such a successful event organized in such short notice and for a great cause to help our country was great,” said CAS junior Paola Peynetti, the other co-president of the BU Mexican Student Association.

College of General Studies freshman Anai Sanchez, a member of the BU Mexican Student Association who helped to coordinate the fundraiser, said she was impressed by the turnout at the event.

“I was born in Mexico,” she said. “This is one of the natural disasters that happened in Mexico. It isn’t well known here in the U.S. I thought it was important to be helping fellow Mexicans over there.”

BU Mexican Student Association member Roberto Barroso said he thought the fundraiser was a great way to collect money and collaborate with the Mexican Red Cross to help families in need.

“The Mexican Red Cross is a wonderful organization that provides aid to those in need in the most crucial circumstances,” Barroso, a CAS freshman, said. “Given the situation in Mexico right now, millions of people are in need of desperate aid, and the Mexican Red Cross is one of the most fundamental organizations providing that aid.”

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