A little more than a month after Hurricane Dorian slammed into the island nation of the Bahamas as a historic Category 5 storm, residents are struggling to put their lives back together.
In an effort to help storm victims, fundraising is going on worldwide and the Diocese of Charleston is part of that effort.
Catholic school students have reached into their piggy banks and people in the pews have reached into their pockets to help the Bahamas rebuild.
Not only did the monster storm pack winds of 185 miles per hour with gusts up to 200, but it also stalled out over the tiny islands, battering residents for more than 20 hours. Parts of the Bahamas were completely devastated, with flattened houses, businesses and infrastructure.
As of Oct. 2, the death toll stood at 56 but is expected to rise, as 608 people are still missing. An estimated 14,000 people were left homeless.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone authorized a special second collection in mid-September to raise funds for Bahamas relief. The amount collected to date is $28,775, which will be sent to Catholic Charities to fund the agency’s work on the islands.
Students at several schools are also doing their part to help Bahamains through fundraisers. As an incentive, some schools offered students a chance to dress down for a day in exchange for a donation for hurricane victims.
For example, Charleston Catholic School holds a TAG day (Teaching About Giving) each month, which allows students to wear casual clothes in exchange for a small donation to a worthy cause. In September, the youth dressed in the colors of the Bahamian flag and raised $520 for Catholic Charities, said Marie Graham, who teaches Spanish.
Cardinal Newman School in Columbia raised $2,400 for the relief effort through a “Dress Down Day”, and students at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton High School in Myrtle Beach also raised money for the effort during a special “Spirit Day” event.
At Divine Redeemer in Hanahan, students are looking forward to “Flip Flop Friday” on Oct. 11, exchanging the required “closed-toe shoes” for flip flops for the small price of at least a dollar toward Dorian relief.
Principal Anita Walker said it is part of the school’s monthly focus on the corporal acts of mercy. Each month, students bring in money saved from their allowance or earned — no getting it from mom and dad — for the chance to “dress down” in some way. Proceeds go to a charity that the students choose. Walker said funds this month will be sent to Catholic Relief Services working on Abaco Island, one of the hardest hit locations in the Bahamas.
Other schools are planning fundraisers for later in the fall, including members of the Beta Club at St. Francis School on Hilton Head Island.
The need for assistance in the Bahamas will continue for a long time. To donate to Catholic Relief Services, visit https://support.crs.org/donate/hurricane-dorian. To donate to Catholic Charities USA, go to https://app.mobilecause.com/form/RTKRvQ.