'Five to Save Lives' - Staff Effort to Raise Money for Tsunami Victims

Janet Basu on January 04, 2005
Five dollars a person, in a campaign lasting five days, touching every person who works at or passes through UCSF's Laurel Heights campus. That's what Colette Auerswald and her colleagues figure it will take to raise $10,000 for victims of the Christmas Week tsunami. In a rush volunteer effort over the New Year's weekend, they organized the "Five to Save Lives" campaign and launched it on Monday morning. By 2 p.m. on Monday, they already had raised $1,700. Volunteers are taking donations from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day from January 3 to 7, at a table set up in front of the cafeteria on the second floor at Laurel Heights. All funds will be divided among three organizations: Oxfam America, Doctors Without Borders and the International Rescue Committee. Donors can use checks as tax-deductible receipts, making out the check to one of those three charities. "We asked ourselves, 'what can we do locally to make a difference?'" said Auerswald, an assistant professor of adolescent medicine at UCSF. Auerswald is spearheading the campaign, along with Pat Rosenbaum and Kevin Sniecinski of the Division of Adolescent Medicine. She said that the urgency of the situation -- with medicines and fresh water needed immediately to prevent the tragedy from multiplying -- spurred them to move quickly to reach out to fellow workers at the California Street location. "We can't organize the whole city or even the whole university, but we can bring the Laurel Heights community together on this." To alert the Laurel Heights community, volunteers hung banners donated by Kinko's and color-printed flyers in every hall and doorway of the building. They are urging everyone who enters Laurel Heights -- from visiting scholars to delivery people to workers in the building to donate. Donors also can send checks, made out to one of the three relief agencies, in care of Auerswald at the Division of Adolescent Medicine, UCSF Box 0503 -- "but please do so by Friday, so we can get this money on its way," she said. To volunteer to staff the donations table, e-mail cocomat@itsa.ucsf.edu. The Five to Save Lives Campaign ends January 7, but the organizers encourage continued support for relief agencies in the weeks and months to come.