Students, local business collaborate on Hear for Haiti benefit

Two seniors in the School of Journalism organized the event.

There was music, food, dancing and a sea of Hear for Haiti benefit T-shirts at The Blue Note on Thursday night. It all started with two people, two weeks ago.

When Allyson Pittman and Kat Hedstrom, both seniors in the School of Journalism, first heard about the devastating earthquake near Port-au-Prince, Haiti last month, they were determined to do something about it.

“I came up with the idea over Christmas break,” Hedstrom said. “I was watching a lot of footage of the crisis in Haiti and decided that I wanted to come back to Columbia and act. I asked Allyson to help me and she was on board right away.”

Pittman, who wants to eventually plan events for not-for-profit organizations, called The Blue Note and told them they were working with a $0 budget.

“They were incredibly helpful,” Pittman said. “Not only did they insist on sponsoring, but they helped us get the bands to come out to play.”

Local bands such as New Locomotive, Hilary Scott, Noah Earle and John Gurney came to play for the cause.

Columbia resident Orion Cooper came to the show to support one of his favorite bands, The Paperclips, who came from Kansas City for the benefit.

“I feel like we owe a lot to Haiti,” Cooper said. “People are doing all sorts of things to help our neighbors out, even sending over used circus tents. I think it’s great.”

The doors opened at 7 p.m., and as each $10 ticket was sold, more than $2,000 was channeled into to the American Red Cross to support the relief effort in Haiti.

“It’s hard for college students to figure out a way to help,” Pittman said. “But people were extremely generous.”

Those who attended could purchase $1 raffle tickets to win gift certificates to local businesses such as ACME, Quinton’s, Sub Shop, Hot Box Cookies, Alpine Shop, Bleu, Sycamore, Broadway Brewery and the Stoney Creek Inn.

“We went around the district one day and started asking businesses if they would like to help,” said Pittman, who has worked on events for groups such as the Special Olympics. “The supportive response was overwhelming and everyone we asked was eager to help.”

Help for Haiti shirts were made by ACME T-shirt Company and are still available for purchase. The V-neck shirts have a red cross on the front with a graphic designed by Garrett Karol, who also designed the posters for the event. One hundred percent of all the T-shirt proceeds went to the American Red Cross.

ACME was also a part of the raffle, which pleasantly surprised Pittman and Hedstrom.

“We did not expect to be this lucky and have this many people involved,” Hedstrom said. “It was amazing to watch the process fly by in basically two weeks.”

Local restaurants such as The Forge and Vine, Room 38 and Flat Branch Pub and Brewing were also willing to sponsor Hear for Haiti. They provided food for the event, which helped solve the $0 obstacle, Pittman said.

“I think fighting a global issue worked in Columbia because people are proud,” Hedstrom said. “Columbians cared enough to make it happen.”

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