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Feb. 22, 2005

Sigma Phi Epsilon raised funds
to buy shoes for Sri Lankan children.


LEWISBURG, Pa. - The Bucknell University community is banding together to support victims of the tsunami disaster.

A new organization, Bucknell's Tsunami Relief Effort 2005: Relief, Recover, Rebuild, or B3R for short, was formed by more than 150 Bucknellians eager to reach out in a variety of ways to help.

Among the group's immediate plans are rebuilding a school in Sri Lanka and sponsoring nearly two dozen Thai children who were affected by the Christmas weekend tsunami that is estimated to have killed nearly 300,000.

Bucknell senior Oshan Wickramanayake and 2001 graduate Gayaan Wickramanayake are helping to coordinate the relief effort with the help of family members in Sri Lanka.

"Three days after the disaster, I was able to see the destruction for myself," the Bucknell senior said. "My family went to Muttur, a town on the East Coast of Sri Lanka, with relief supplies for people displaced by the disaster. Many of them had lost everything."

He said it was clear at the initial disaster relief meeting sponsored by the university that many in the Bucknell community wanted to help. One idea that came from the first meeting in January was focusing on a specific community and helping to fulfill its immediate needs.

"The relief money will be sent to Sri Lanka to help build a school," said Paula Cogan, Bucknell's director of international student services. "We decided on this project because it is very important that the children continue their education. Also the school can provide basic needs for these children."

B3R Tsunami Relief may make the Sri Lankan school, Madampagama Madhya Maha Vidyalaya in Ambalangoda, a long-term relief project. The 964 students at the school range in age from five to 20 years.

"We want to ensure that the children have everything they need to move forward with their education," said Amy Badal, assistant dean of students. "We will continue our effort until their needs have been met."

Other student groups and departments are also involved. The Class of 2008 is selling orange-and-blue bracelets and donating proceeds to the B3R effort. A campus concert will raise funds for CARE International.

Twenty-three Thai students in hard-hit Phuket have been "adopted" by student groups and several university departments, each with the goal of raising anywhere from $125 to $375 that will go toward rebuilding housing, purchasing school supplies, or paying for school lunches.

Students are raising money in a variety of ways - everything from bake sales and a battle of the bands concert to a DVD player raffle and a comedy show. A fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, raised money to buy shoes for Sri Lankan children. A Bucknellians for Peace concert raised $500 for relief efforts.

Badal said the B3R effort welcomes support from the community as well and checks can be made out to Bucknell University and sent to the Tsunami Relief Effort, Office of the Dean of Students, 211 Elaine Langone Center, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837.

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For more information, contact Amy Badal, assistant dean of students, at 570-577-1638, or Paula Cogan, director of international student services, at 570-577-3794.

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