NJPIRG throws dodge ball game to raise funds for storm victims

Instead of going out for drinks on Friday night, some students and their friends faced off in a dodge ball game to help raise funds for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Chris Judge, a Belleville resident, said he signed up to play dogdeball because he understands how people’s lives changed after the storm Friday night in the College Ave Gym.

“My aunt lives in Lyndhurst right next to a river. Her house got flooded really bad,” he said. “She got about 12 feet of water in her basement. … Her carpet and all of her furniture is done. She has to start over.”

The game raised more than $2,000 for the American Red Cross, as more than 80 people signed up to play the game and about 20 people came to the watch the event.

Each person paid $5 to either play or watch the game, which was coordinated by the University’s chapter of the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group.

Julie Kamerman, media coordinator for NJPIRG’s hunger and homelessness campaign, said hosting a dodge ball game was a collective idea.

“We thought it would be a good way [for people] to get some frustration out. It’s exciting, it’s something you can play hard in and something we thought people would show up to watch because it’s entertaining,” said Kamerman, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.

Kamerman said it was refreshing to see so many people show up to the event.

“A lot of people came up and said ‘I’m not athletic and I don’t want to play dodge ball but thank you for what you’re doing,’ and they gave us donations,” she said.

The event included a halftime show with a live band and a performance from the Scarlet Knights Cheerleading and Dance Team.

Kamerman said the event was not only intended to spread awareness for Hurricane Sandy relief but also bring attention to the issue of hunger and homelessness.

“Our goal is to raise over $4,000 in the next few weeks for hurricane relief,” Kamerman said.

Kamerman said she became involved with NJPIRG because she wanted to make a difference in society.

“The issue of hunger and homelessness is something that’s not really paid attention to,” she said. “A lot of people don’t realize that the majority of the homeless, especially locally, are children. It’s an issue that not only needs help but awareness as well.”

Anne Adekoya, event coordinator for the hunger and homelessness campaign, said planning and organizing the event was not easy.

“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to put an event like this together in such a short amount of time. Most of the success of this event is driven by the passion of wanting to help this cause,” said Adekoya, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

She said the most important part was to get the word out so that people would show up.

“We did something called ‘dorm storming.’ We went to as many dormitories as we could and we knocked on all the doors to create visibility and get our message out there,” she said.

Crystal Mor, NJPIRG campus community organizer, said the event was a fun way for student to give back to the community.

“We wanted people to unite. A lot of people came as single players and were put onto a team. They are meeting new people, stepping out of their comfort zones and having fun together,” said Mor, a University alumna.

The event also served as a way to promote the upcoming Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

“It will include canned food drives, direct service volunteering and a faculty benefit dinner where the proceeds will go directly to hurricane relief,” Mor said.

Elisa Hoehe, a graduate student in the School of Social Work, played in the game and said it was exciting and intense.

“I guess I thought it was going to be just one game, but you’re out there playing for 15 minutes straight. You get to play as many games as you can in 15 minutes,” Hoehe said.

Hoehe invited 14 of her friends from Belleville to come out and play. She said it was easy to get them to come because it was for a good cause.

“When I first saw someone passing out flyers, I didn’t pay it much attention I just thought ‘Oh, it’s just another college event’ but when I saw the words ‘Sandy’ and ‘dodge ball’ on the flyer, I was immediately interested,” she said.

Hoehe said she the experience was worth way more than $5.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate my experience tonight as a solid 10. I would have paid up to $20 just to participate,” she said. “It was a great first experience, and I plan to participate in more events on campus.”