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Gernot Bankel, age 73, donates money to ASUMN Community Experience's Syrian Refugee Relief Fund on Thursday, September 24th. Bankel, who moved to the U.S. in 1952 after World War 2 identifies with the current situation in Syria.
Gernot Bankel, age 73, donates money to ASUMN Community Experience's Syrian Refugee Relief Fund on Thursday, September 24th. Bankel, who moved to the U.S. in 1952 after World War 2 identifies with the current situation in Syria.

ASUNM agency seeking donations for refugee aid

A University organization is taking its mission of community service to an international scale by taking donations for Syrian refugees.

Community Experience, an Associated Students of UNM agency, works to bring service opportunities to campus in the spirit of helping others, which is essentially the focus of their new initiative, said CE Executive Director Amelia Linde.

“We’re the ASUNM organization that’s oriented towards both making UNM a positive experience for students, and doing that through getting people opportunities to reach out to the community, and to engage fellow students as well as make a difference in the world,” Linde said.

CE was already planning on setting up a table promoting the annual Fall Frenzy campus cleanup event, so they decided to take donations for refugees at the same time.

“I’ve really been paying attention to what’s going on in the Syrian refugee crisis, so I kind of just raised the idea to the volunteers,” Linde said. “They were overwhelmingly on board to try and support this.”

She said the volunteer team did its research to find a credible charity to send the money to. The group settled on the American Refugee Committee, which allows them to track where the money is going.

Through Wednesday, Linde said, CE has raised about $80. The original plan was to take donations just this week, but the agency will now be accepting money through next week as well.

“We want to raise as much as possible,” she said. “I think it’s a very reasonable goal that it will be anywhere up to $200-$300.”

Linde said that from her experience studying in Sweden, she’s more aware and open to international issues. That includes the Syrian refugee crisis, which has displaced upwards of 10 million Syrians from their homes due to civil conflict in the Middle Eastern nation, according to worldvision.org.

She was conversing with students who stopped to visit the table, discussing with some of them the ordeal that the refugees are being forced to endure.

“It’s hard in the U.S. to understand because there’s a huge ocean between us and these problems,” Linde said.

Reece Buckner, a senior English-philosophy major, is one student who stopped by Thursday afternoon to drop some cash into the donation bucket. He said he wanted to support a cause that was bigger than his own use for the money.

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“My $3 and not being able to eat…it just doesn’t compare to what they’re going through,” Buckner said. “If I’m going to waste it on Snickers, might as well just give it to these people who are risking their lives to cross the ocean, dying in the attempt, just because of the hell they’re coming from.”

Buckner, like Linde, said it’s important for stateside students to be aware of what’s happening overseas.

“If you don’t pay attention to what’s going on in the world around you, then you’re not going to have any direction in what to major in, what’s important and what’s coming in the future.”

The donation table is set up again on Friday outside CE’s office, room 1060 on the bottom floor of the SUB, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will also be set up next week for those interested in donating or learning more facts about the refugee crisis.

David Lynch is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

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