February 19, 2010
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Student fund raising efforts net $1,800 in aide

Student flower sale

A Valentine's Day flower sale was one of several fund-raising efforts coordinated by UMass Worcester students. To see photos of other events, view slideshow.

WORCESTER, Mass.— In the days following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti, students at the School of Medicine, Graduate School of Nursing and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UMass Worcester came together in their support of global relief efforts.

To coordinate efforts among the many individuals interested in helping, students formed the Haiti Relief Group, a consortium through which they’ve raised more than $1800. Medical Student Kara Keating Bench, of the Class of 2012, said that students from all three schools organized a number of fund-raising events, including a Valentine’s Day flower sale, a film series event and the sale of masks for the annual Masquerade Ball. Additionally, medical and nursing students have coordinated the collection of more than 600 personal hygiene kits, which include items such as toothpaste and soap and will be distributed to earthquake victims by the Catholic Medical Mission Board.

Seeing newscasts of the destruction caused by the earthquake was particularly difficult for Keating Bench, who has a Master’s in Public Health and worked in Haiti prior to enrolling at UMass Medical School. “It was difficult to watch the news at first,” she said. “It wasn’t long, though, before I realized I wanted to focus my attention on helping instead of watching.”

The Haiti Relief Group is currently planning additional fund-raising events and will be accepting donations at an upcoming Complementary and Alternative Medicine Day on May 13 at the Medical School. The group also hopes to organize an event to collect old electronics—cell phones, laptops and other items—with the proceeds from the donated items going to the relief efforts.

“This is a great example of how the student community at UMass Medical School comes together to make a difference for people in need,” said Keating Bench.

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The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $240 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The mission of the Medical School is to advance the health and well-being of the people of the commonwealth and the world through pioneering education, research, public service and health care delivery with its clinical partner, UMass Memorial Health Care. For more information, visit www.umassmed.edu.