In the wake of the earthquake that destroyed much of Haiti’s infrastructure and took the lives of thousands of its citizens, the international outpouring of support for the disaster’s victims has offered a glimpse into the power of collective action. However, the response also reveals the inconsistency of charitable giving. Rather than waiting for the next natural or man-made disaster to strike, UR students should consider donating not just money, but time as well, to charities and programs that would benefit from their support any day of the year.

It is only natural that people should donate more in response to a disaster that clearly has a high human cost, especially since immediate relief is essential to saving lives. But at the same time, many communities – some right here in Rochester – would benefit from assistance not directly tied to the amount of news coverage generated. Students have shown they can give in times of need, but they can always do more – the need for assistance is ongoing and not limited to one time or place.

Students do not need to look far beyond this university to find communities that need help. UR is located in a city that suffers from consistently high crime rates and low high school graduation rates. The New York State Education Department recently designated nine high schools belonging to the Rochester City School District as persistently low-achieving.

While innovation and creativity may be required, programs and organizations such as Upward Bound and the Rochester Center for Community Leadership already exist that make it easy for students to give individualized attention to issues facing communities within Rochester. In addition to fundraising events regularly held on campus, the Campus Club Connection alone lists seven community service organizations that students can join.

There is no shortage of opportunities for UR students to use their talents on behalf of those less fortunate. Temporary relief efforts are praiseworthy, but students can show they truly care about the well-being of others by making the commitment to donate their time and resources on a more permanent basis.

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