Sept. 3, 2005 – Residents and organizations across the Virgin Islands are trying to do what they can to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.
On Friday, the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association announced a fundraising drive and Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards said his office would also be working in conjunction with the American Red Cross to bring relief to the victims.
The University of the Virgin Islands announced it would give special consideration to those students who wish to register for classes at UVI for the fall semester on the St. Thomas or St. Croix campus.
The release from the university said, "Students from the Virgin Islands who are attending colleges in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, as well as non-Virgin Islands residents, can apply. Room and board facilities are available, and, to the extent available, every effort will be made to accommodate students with housing needs."
Richards said he was struck by the widespread devastation of several towns and cities in Mississippi and Louisiana, especially New Orleans, which were severely affected by the Category 4 hurricane.
"We here in the Virgin Islands know all too well the damage that these hurricanes can leave in their wake," Richards said. "We can sympathize with our brothers and sisters in New Orleans and the other devastated cities and towns because we certainly have been there before."
He added, "I urge everyone to remember the generosity that was afforded to us when we went through similar ordeals with Hurricanes Hugo and Marilyn. This is a time to show that we remember and that we care by giving whatever we could afford to the disaster relief efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi."
Checks or money orders can be mailed or dropped off at chapters of the American Red Cross on St. Croix and St. Thomas. Checks should be made payable to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and specify Hurricane Katrina.
The USVI Hotel and Tourism Association made an initial donation in its drive, which was immediately matched by each the West Indian Company Limited and Ritz Carlton According to a press release from the association, the Holiday Inn also has offered a significant donation.
"We receive global support when a natural disaster strikes our islands," Beverly Nicholson, president of the HTA, said. "In light of the magnitude of this devastation, we felt it was important to lead a community drive to assist the people of these southern states. We hope they can maintain a positive spirit and realize that the world cares about their troubles."
The release stated that if every tourism employee contributes $2, an additional $20,000 could be raised. To contribute to this drive, make checks payable to the American Red Cross and send to the Hotel and Tourism Association office. One hundred per cent of the donations collected will be presented to the USVI chapter of the American Red Cross for the relief effort. For information, contact the Association office at 774-6835.
UVI has classes available in nursing, business and general education for students pursuing liberal arts education credits. Class schedules may be viewed at (See "www.uvi.edu").
"We empathize and want to help our friends and neighbors get through this difficult time," said UVI Provost Dr. Al Hassan I. Musah.
For information, contact the admissions director at 693-1224 on St. Thomas or the Admissions Office on UVI's St. Croix campus at 693-4158.
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