After the disaster of Tropical Storm Imelda, Aggies are coming together to raise money and supplies for the people of Beaumont.
Asha Winfield, communication doctoral student, started a fundraiser and has been proactive in making sure the people in her hometown of Beaumont are getting the resources they need. She started by making a flyer and a campaign called Give Back to Beaumont. Next she started a GoFundMe page and collected clothes and toiletries from different organizations and students around campus.
Winfield had heard about the storm and spent the next day talking to friends and family back in Beaumont to see how they were doing. She said the effects of the storm were devastating.
“Throughout the day, people were saying that they had lost everything,” Winfield said. “People that I know personally were saying [they] lost everything again. They were saying they just recovered from Harvey, and they were trying to figure out how they were going to recover again.”
After hearing this news, Winfield decided to start her collection of money, clothes and toiletries to help the city of Beaumont. She said she was astounded by the amount of help she received.
“Within ten days, we raised $1,300, and within seven days we had filled up my living room with clothes and donations,” Winfield said. “We had filled up my car. We had to rent a U-Haul just to be able to transport all of the donations that Aggies gave.”
After taking all of the donations to Beaumont and distributing them to the people in the city, Winfield said she was happy to see that her and other Aggies’ efforts were actually aiding people in need.
“We served 93 families in four hours,” Winfield said. “Some of them walked out with tears in their eyes because we gave them a hot meal, we gave them toiletries and cleaning supplies, and we let them shop for as many clothes as they wanted.”
When Winfield first decided to do something to help her hometown, she reached out to A&M students and faculty. Among them was associate professor for the Department of Communication Kristan Poirot. She said that she and the faculty of the Department of Communication were willing and able to contribute to publicizing Give Back to Beaumont.
“We really just wanted to help her efforts,” Poirot said. “We wanted to reach out to people who could help and wanted to give. That was really our main goal.”
Poirot said she believes the publicity really did reach the people of A&M and inspired them to help Beaumont.
“I do think that we got the message out,” Poirot said. “There was a lot of involvement, not just from students, but from faculty too, who gave money to help out.”
Ella Taylor, a friend of Winfield who helped gather and distribute the donations, said spreading the word was one of the most important factors in getting as much help as they did.
“With the flyers and talking to students and everything, we really wanted people to know that there was something they could do,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the families that came to get clothes were thankful for the help.
“They were very appreciative,” Taylor said. “Some of the parents were grateful that there were clothes for their kids, and when the parents couldn’t be there, the kids were able to get clothes and supplies for their families.”
Taylor said that seeing all of the people that were so grateful for the volunteering efforts was very touching.
“It was emotional just because of the outpouring of the people giving,” Taylor said. “I was excited to be there to help in any way that I could.”
Winfield said that she couldn’t have done this much for her city if it weren’t for the help of her friends, family and her fellow Aggies.
“There was help every bit of the way,” Winfield said. “It started with an idea, but I never felt at any point that I was alone in this effort. There was support from Aggies the whole way through.”
More information about the Give Back to Beaumont project and how to donate is available at https://ie.gofundme.com/f/give-back-to-beaumont.