Joseph Strasser ’53, G’58, H’20 was just 8 years old in 1940 when he and his brother escaped Nazi persecution on a Kindertransport rescue boat. Two years earlier, the Third Reich had annexed their home country, Austria. Their father, Paul,…
Shirt and sock drive yields many donations for NYC relief workers
Shirt and sock drive yields many donations for NYC relief workersSeptember 22, 2001Nicci Brownnicbrown@syr.edu
As rescue workers in New York City continued their desperate search for survivors of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, members of the SU community were collecting t-shirts and socks to aid the effort. Collection points at Hendricks Chapel and the Schine Student Center were set up on Thursday, Sept. 13 and Friday, Sept. 14, and were soon swamped with thousands of donations.
Pamela Kirwin Heintz, director of the University’s Center for Public and Community Service (CPCS), says there were so many shirts and socks collected at the Schine by 10 a.m. Sept. 14 that she could barely get into her office. At one stage, the two 40-gallon collection bins were being emptied every 15 minutes. “I was emotionally flabbergasted by the response,” Heintz says. “This effort was more energized than anything I’ve seen like this since I joined the University in 1992.”
By the end of the day on Sept. 14, almost 200 bags of t-shirts and socks had been collected at SU, as well as 1,400 boxed shirts donated by campus departments including Recreation Services, the Carrier Dome and the Office of Greek Life. The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry donated new socks, and individual donations from the public were brought to SU from as far away as Oneida.
Heintz says many of the shirts had messages of encouragement and hope written on them. “Arlene (Melchiorre, in the CPCS office) said ‘these are going to make you cry,’ and they did,” says Heintz. “We felt so helpless and so horrified. Collecting the shirts seemed like a small thing, but it was important to be able to help.”
The collection effort was sparked by reports that rescuers wading through the rubble of the World Trade Center were changing their socks and t-shirts every hour because of site contamination. Soon e-mails and phone calls were being exchanged around campus and collection points were established. Hendricks Chapel and Students Offering Service, ROTC and the Chancellor’s Office joined forces to collect the donations, and Physical Plant staff transported them to a Salvation Army tractor trailer located at Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt. The Salvation Army transported the donations to New York City.
The effort was publicized with posters, via the campus “Hot News” service and in the media with an overwhelming response. Administrative assistant and collection volunteer Susan C. Ryan says it was “unbelievable.” “People were just absolutely wonderful,” she says. “It was literally like they were taking the shirts off their backs and donating it. I’m so proud of everybody.”