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Our Community

From Chicken Soup for the College Soul

Our Community

One Tuesday evening in the beginning of the fall 1996 semester at Shippensburg University, sirens sounded. These sirens were not in celebration; they were a cry to the university that something was wrong. A house, only one block away, was on fire. Nine of the university’s students lived there.

From the minute the word got out that help was needed, it seemed like everyone showed up. The victims of the fire were offered endless invitations for housing for the night. The very next day, everyone got into gear to do their part in helping them. Flyers were posted with items that were immediately needed, just to get these students through this next couple of days. Boxes for donations and money jars were placed in every residence hall.

As a residence director, I went before the students in my hall to ask them to do what they could. I knew that college students don’t have much, but I asked them to do their best: “Every little bit will help.” I really didn’t think they could do much. I was proved wrong.

At the hall council meeting the night after the fire, my residents decided to have a wing competition, where each wing of the building would team up to see who could bring in the most donations. I announced that the wing that won would receive a free pizza party.

Thursday evening we announced over the PA system that we were beginning the wing competition. Within minutes, the place exploded. The single large box that I had placed in the lobby was overflowing. We quickly grabbed more boxes, and we watched in amazement as they, too, filled to the brim. Members of the resident assistant staff and I began to count the items. I was astonished by what I saw, and I was inspired by these kids.

When we came to the final tally, the winners turned to me and announced that they would like to donate their winnings as well. They wanted the victims of the fire to have their pizza party.

Tears welled up in my eyes. I had watched these students jump to action, work tirelessly and donate all that they could. And then, as if that were not enough, they handed over their reward. I was touched and so very proud of them.

Christa F. Sandelier

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