Students launch effort to collect donations for those affected by apartment fire

Published: Mar. 28, 2019 at 6:32 PM EDT
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After a

near James Madison University's campus on Thursday, the community is coming together to help support those in need.

Courtney Brogna, a senior at JMU, heard about the fire from messages and social media. She said when she saw the pictures of the damage, she just knew she needed to do something to help.

So Brogna started a

, and in just about five hours, it had raised almost $40,000. As of 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, it had reached more than $47,000. Brogna said she honestly did not expect it to raise that much money, and she is overwhelmed by the amount of support shown.

"JMU is often considered a very different entity from Harrisonburg in general," Brogna said, "and so this was amazing and meant the world to me that so many people are willing to step out of their comfort zone, help out in any way, shape or form that they can, just for the aid of someone else, even if they don't know them."

She's working closely with the school's AVP of Student Life, Jim McConnel, who will oversee the distribution of all donated funds to students.

Brogna and Michelle Wahidi, a JMU student, are both residents of a nearby apartment complex. Wahidi said they also started collecting donations in the lobby at 865 Port Republic Road.

"So we had some stuff, other people had some stuff, and I was like, bring it down to the lobby, I'm going to start sorting it," Wahidi said. "We had just a couple boxes, and we had to go buy more because we had in the span of an hour, just so many people reach out saying hey, how can I help."

Wahidi and Brogna said that if you're interested in donating items, they're taking anything that could help, but they're especially looking for men's clothing, especially new underwear and socks, shoes for men and women, and toiletries.

For students who live on campus, they'll be collecting donations on the Quad from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from Friday until April 3.

If students impacted need some of the donations, Brogna said they can reach out to her or Wahidi, or just come by the lobby and get what you need.

Looking for other ways to donate and help?

The JMU Student Government Association and Women of Color put together a collection effort on campus.

They're taking donations on the third floor of Madison Union, outside the SGA office, as a centralized point for donations on campus. They're also accepting them at the Festival Conference & Student Center, outside of the Off-Campus Life office on the ground level (Suite 1130).

Donations off-campus are being accepted at:

• The Clubhouses of Northview, Stonegate, and Southview.

• Rocktown Realty - 218 East Market Street (M-F, 8:30AM-5:00PM) (across the street from Urban Exchange downtown)

The general call for items to donate at any location includes the following items:

- Personal hygiene products

- Toiletries

- Non-perishable food

- Bottled water

- Blankets and bedding

- Towels and washcloths

- Socks and underwear

- Clothing

- Suitcases or duffel bags

- Chargers for phones and laptops