Volunteers take advantage of the one-week suspension of classes to help repack relief goods for flood victims. Photo by Lester G. BabieraDESPITE itself being a victim of tropical storm “Ondoy,” UST reached out to devastated towns in Rizal and Bulacan, holding relief drives from September 29 to October 2.

The Central Student Council (CSC) launched “Tulong Tomasino” as part of efforts to help victims in the aftermath of the storm, which left almost 300 people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless after battering Luzon last September 26.

Jose Cruz III, director of the Office for Community Development, said the University extended help to the town of Marilao in Bulacan last September 30. An estimated of 1,700 families benefited from relief operations and a medical mission.

After being hampered by high flood waters and rains last October 1, UST volunteers led by the Philippine National Police Mobile Group pushed through with their relief drive in Cainta, Rizal the following day. They brought an estimated 2,000 bags.

CSC public relations officer Margielyn Asilo said cash donations reached an estimated P200,000 for the first two days of the relief drive, while more than 800 Thomasian volunteers helped in the re-packaging of goods at UST-Tan Yan Kee Student Center.

Each relief bag contained used clothes, bottled water and juice, two kilos of rice, biscuits, canned sardines, instant noodles, and toiletries such as soap and shampoo.

Cristina Cabral, assistant to the Rector for student affairs, said she was “overwhelmed” by the support from students, who even volunteered to use their own vehicles to deliver the relief goods.

Kristin Melvie Bunda, a journalism junior, said she was not forced by anyone to volunteer. “I’d rather be here [volunteering], helping Ondoy’s victims than be a couch potato at home,” she said.

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Mechanical engineering senior Jam Sy agreed with Bunda, saying this was his only chance of helping victims instead of “doing nothing at home.”

Cruz said his office might also help Rodriguez (Montalban) in Rizal since “government rescue agencies were having a hard time entering this place and residents need help.”

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