By Clarissa Pompa | Reporter
The Latino Pre-Health Student Association is holding a shoe fundraiser until March 10 to benefit Venezuelans who are dealing with the consequences of populist policies. The boxes are placed throughout campus in order to collect 2,500 pairs of shoes.
Cypress senior Giana Rodriguez is president of the new organization. LPHSA is in its second semester of existence and has 110 members who regularly attend meetings. Whereas the first semester was primarily focused on drawing members, Rodriguez is now placing a higher focus on service this spring.
“When I originally founded this organization, I knew that I wanted to form something that was on a more global level,” Rodriguez said. “We were already making an impact here on campus and in Texas, but I wanted to do something for our friends and family abroad.”
The shoe drive is working with Cuatro Por Venezuela in order to get the shoes to Venezuela. The shoes the group collects will be given to Funds2Orgs in exchange for money to purchase the packages. Venezuela is currently in crisis as riots erupt and many citizens are dealing with hyperinflation, hunger, disease, soaring crime and death rates.
“Cuatro Por Venezuela, with the crisis, was the first thing that caught my attention. They really reach out to every aspect to what a human needs,” Rodriguez said. “Once I looked into it, I was like ‘yes, this is perfect’ because we don’t lose anything, and we’re also helping them reach their goals.”
Rodriguez believes raising money for one country does not diminish the needs of other countries but that of the different Latino countries, Venezuela is in most immediate need of help from Baylor’s campus.
“[The rations are] super overpriced, and so people are getting hurt from all the riots,” Rodriguez said. “With everything being so expensive and with the huge divide, how are they supposed to be able to get what they need when the country is just torn apart? It’s just very sad.”
San Antonio senior and neuroscience major Daniel Medina, thinks the campus population that is aware of the Venezuelan crisis is primarily of Hispanic heritage. He believes the pre-health association is bringing a heightened awareness due to the connection to other organizations and the collection boxes placed visibly on campus. Medina credits this to the group’s momentum from last semester.
“I feel like this semester they’re more on top of it. More service events, more people are showing up,” Medina said. “I just feel like the environment is so welcoming to see what they are. It has a lot of potential to grow.”
Rodriguez agrees, acknowledging that last semester was primarily for membership growth. but this semester she wants the pre-health organization to focus on the basic reason for the membership. The group has raised their service requirement from two hours per semester to 10.
“As a Christian university, we are called to help people regardless of where they come from, where they live, even though they’re not our next door neighbors,” Rodriguez said. “I try to be like what’s going on and where can I help because just being selfish and just thinking about ourselves in our day-to-day lives is not the best thing — knowing that there’s other people who don’t have the privilege of going to school.”