Student partners with United Way to help Sandy victims

Mark Stanford, a music education major at Youngstown State University, has teamed up with the United Way to bring relief to Hurricane Sandy victims in his hometown of Bucks County, Pa.

Bucks County was one of the hardest-hit areas in Pennsylvania, experiencing power outages and damage to property, roads and public buildings.

Shortly after the storm hit, Stanford contacted the United Way to see how he could help the area.

“We are in the position of advancing the common good,” said Danielle Bush, community impact assistant for the United Way. “We connect; we make connections for the agencies. We are not a direct service provider.”

United Way of Bucks County serves the community as a nonprofit organization, funding 52 programs and 31 agencies.

After the storm, the United Way found that food banks across the area were unable to deal with the increase in food necessities.

Relief services could offer only limited support, as they were preoccupied with highly damaged areas. In addition, the requests for relief from food banks grew, and resources ran thin across the coast.

“It was just very vulnerable, you know, if something were to happen again,” Stanford said.

The United Way is now working to help restock supplies, and in an effort to assist, Stanford has launched a campuswide fundraiser.

He’s placed collection boxes in each residence hall, and a box was included in the Tunnel of Oppression, which was located in Kilcawley Center last week.

Stanford is now running the fundraiser through the Catholic Student Association at YSU, and he has reached out to other organizations such as Housing and Residence Life and the Scholars and Honors Program.

Stanford has also worked with other students and faculty members across campus to help the program expand.

“As of right now, I think I have raised $100, which is a decent amount, but I think we have higher goals,” Stanford said.

He has worked with Cory Okular, president of the Student Government Association, and Ronald Shaklee, director of the Scholars and Honors Program, to create an incentive program to encourage university scholars and honors students to donate.

“I have agreed to allow a prize to be letting somebody pie me in the face if they raise $300 in donations,” Okular said.

If students in the program can raise $600 by the end of the week, the chance to pie both Okular and Shaklee by the semester’s end will be raffled off.

Those interested in donating can contact Stanford at