By Reubin Turner
and Sanmai Gbandi
The Baylor and Waco communities joined efforts to help victims affected by the fertilizer plant explosion, which occurred Wednesday in West, 17 miles north of Waco.
Thursday evening, two storage trucks full of food, clothes and other personal hygiene products lined the front of the Ferrell Center as more than 100 students and others from the Waco community poured in an attempt to assist with West relief efforts.
According to an email sent out to University faculty, staff and students, Baylor is a cooperating organization with the McLennan County Office of Emergency Management.
Coincidentally, the explosion happened one day before Diadeloso, an almost 80-year-old tradition at Baylor University in which students enjoy a day from classes with live entertainment and time to relax with friends, according to the University website.
Local worship pastor of Harris Creek Baptist Church Drew Greenway assisted the Baylor community to help with relief efforts.
Greenway said he and Baylor students from Harris Creek found out about the efforts through various social media sites.
“I think it’s coolest thing that many students are giving up their Dia in order to help with such a worthy cause,” Greenway said. He added that the food and supply drive in front of Ferrell was student-led.
The university administration also helped with efforts for West relief by enacting many changes regarding the highly anticipated Diadeloso.
In addition to a delayed start and a prayer vigil held in the Barfield Drawing Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center, the headliner event that featured Five for Fighting and Green River Ordinance was moved to the Ferrell Center in order to convert it into a benefit concert.
Dallas freshman Allyson Cope said that she thought it was a great move by the university to change the Diadeloso performance into a benefit concert for West.
“It makes me so proud to be apart of such a community,” Cope said.
President Ken Starr said that as of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the university had received almost $15,000 in donations.
Student Life set up a Bear Trailer on fifth Street to collect items of greatest need, including water bottles, baby formula and personal hygiene products.
Amarillo senior Austin Tiffany, a member of Baylor Chamber, helped accept donations at the trailer.
“We weren’t sure what to expect, especially since it was short notice, but the outpouring of support has been great,” Tiffany said. He added that the number of donations and supplies has far exceeded their expectations.
In an email sent out to residents of the Honors Residential College, Chris Kirk, residence hall director, also informed students of the supply drive sponsored by the residence hall, and encouraged them to donate as much as possible to the cause.
In addition to donating supplies, Baylor students and various members of the community went out to donate blood.
According to Kristin McGinty, director of field-recruitment in Waco’s Carter BloodCare, approximately 300 people had been in and out since they opened their doors at 9 am.
“The wait is long,” said McGinty. “We got a lot of donors.”
Wait times to donate averaged around 2 1/2 to five hours.
Linda Goezler, public relations director for Waco’s Carter BloodCare, encourages people who want to donate to be patient and not be discouraged with the long wait times, stressing how crucial blood drives in the community are and how helpful it can be in times of disaster.
Goezler added there were many Baylor students waiting to give blood.
Colorado senior Brooke Borgias, who had never donated blood before, said she saw what happened in West and knew she wanted to do something to help.
“It’s just sad, and this is something I can do,” Borgias said. “We should all do anything we can to help during this awful time period for our area, and the country.”
Those wanting to give monetary donations can do so by visiting the West Relief Fund at Baylor University and donating at www.baylor.edu/relief/give.