Grassroots Effort Raises $6,800 for Tsunami Relief

January 11, 2005
UCSF staff at the Laurel Heights campus deserve some high fives. Last week, they raised nearly $6,800, mostly from $5 donations, to aid victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. A grassroots fund-raiser - called "Five to Save Lives" - aimed to collect as many $5 donations as possible in five days, and quickly send the much-needed cash to relief organizations helping those affected by the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami. And checks went into the mail yesterday (Jan. 10) to Oxfam America, Doctors Without Borders and the International Rescue Committee. "Five to Save Lives" was spearheaded by Colette Auerswald, a physician and faculty member, and her colleagues in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Laurel Heights. During the holidays, she kept reading all the tragic stories after the tsunami and wanted to come up with a way to pass the hat at her office building. On Sunday, Jan. 2, she and her family spent 3½ hours posting flyers that would steer UCSF staff returning to work from the holidays to a donation table outside The View, the second-floor cafeteria at Laurel Heights. For five days, volunteers collected donations, ranging from spare change from cafeteria purchases to five dollar bills to an envelope with $55 from the building's custodians. It all added up to $6,793.60 by Friday afternoon. "I was so touched by the spirit and generosity of the people at Laurel Heights," said Auerswald. "It was unbelievable. I had tears in my eyes when I drove home from work on Friday. "A lot of people care about the tragedy but can't give large amounts of money. But they were happy to give their $5 and be part of something big," she said. "Laurel Heights may look like the Pentagon, but it's village." In addition to the many donors, Auerswald was grateful to the 30 or so workers at Laurel Heights who volunteered to man the collection table last week. She also thanked local vendors, including Kinko's, which donated banners and color-printed flyers, and Jamba Juice, the Beanery, Noah's Bagels and The View, which provided gift certificates to the volunteers. Auerswald urged those who are able and who have not donated already to heed Chancellor Michael Bishop's message to the campus community last week. The email included a link to a website listing a variety of donation options. Source: Andy Evangelista