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GOSHEN -- Some Goshen College students might be eating fewer meals in the campus cafeteria this month.
But they won't mind, said senior Thushan Hemachandra, because the cost of those meals will go to people affected by the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia.
Hemachandra, a Sri Lankan senior at Goshen College, has teamed up with Myra Karina, a student from Indonesia, campus minister Sylvia Shirk Charles and her assistant, Jeron Baker, to lead a fund-raiser with a goal of $10,000 for tsunami relief.
"I am anticipating a very good response on campus," said Hemachandra, who found out his family and friends were safe in Sri Lanka during his Christmas break in Colorado.
"It was a little overwhelming to talk about this," said Hemachandra, who returned to begin a new semester on Wednesday. "But it was nice to see people were so concerned and praying.
"Even if my family is safe, it's hard to think of all the countrymen that died."
The fund-raiser was put together before the start of classes, through e-mails and online brainstorming sessions among students spread around the country for the holidays. The money will go to disaster victims through a Mennonite Central Committee relief fund.
"We thought it would be the best idea because MCC is something GC students have heard of and trust," said Hemachandra, adding that students know their money is safe and put to good use.
The fund-raiser will focus on students with on-campus meal plans, signing up to donate some of their meals. For each meal donated, the cafeteria will give $2.50 to the cause.
"At this point, we thought we'd try it out, and asked students to donate Monday night dinners for the month of January," said Hemachandra.
Charles reports that in one day, nearly 150 students on campus gave up all of their Monday night dinners for this month.
"A lot of people here are concerned about what happens around the world," said Charles, who has received many calls from students asking to help with the fund-raiser.
"It is heartening to see how much time and dedication students are bringing into this."
One day into the campaign, Hemachandra hopes that faculty and staff will also take advantage of the opportunity and donate. Drop-off boxes have been set up in every department on campus.
If everyone at the college donates $10, the $10,000 goal won't take long to reach, said Hemachandra.
He added that a bucket passed around at a GC basketball game Tuesday night gathered $600 for the fund.
"While talking to my family, they told me that the immediate need for funds (in Sri Lanka) has been met, but this is a long-term recovery process," said Hemachandra, whose mother has personally delivered supplies to Sri Lankan affected areas.
Goshen College hosts approximately 25 Asian students with ties to affected areas, and according to Charles, all of their families are out of harm's way.
"We keep them all in our prayers," she said.
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