Aid program aims to channel hurricane funds to help needy students

Although student leaders formed Operation: Southern Hospitality in September to aid fellow students from areas that were affected by hurricane Katrina, surplus funds led officials to reach out to other students on campus.

The focus of the organization changed when there was a surplus of over $7,000 after the Katrina victims received what they needed.

Members then decided to reach out to other students on campus, Student Government Association Vice-President Phillip Agnew said.

The new focus of the organization will be to give aid to any student who has suffered from a disaster whether it is natural, financial or otherwise.

Now that the funds are exhausted, members of Southern Hospitality look forward to starting their new approach.

Jessica Larche, 20, a member, said the vision of the organization is to have a huge endowment so that help can be given throughout the semester.

“We have to look at the bigger picture,” said Larche. “Tragedy doesn’t just strike once.”

In order to further Southern Hospitality’s vision, members are in the process of getting the organization registered with the Office of Student Union and Activities, said Larche, a junior broadcast journalism student from New Orleans.

Agnew said students often look to SGA for money, without realizing that they receive money from other sources and cannot just give it out.

Now, with Southern Hospitality, students can possibly get the help they need. When the project is finalized, the organization will have a process on how to allocate funds for students.

Anyone is eligible to join the organization. Southern Hospitality members credit the students, faculty and alumni for making the organization a success.

“It’s a way for students to bless other students,” Larche said.

Although the project is in its infant stage, the members of Southern Hospitality successfully raised over $18,000 to aid needy students.

To raise money in the past, “the members of Southern Hospitality held prayer vigils, a talent show and a basketball game to aid Katrina victims,” Agnew said.

Agnew, 20, a junior business administration student from Chicago, along with other FAMU students and faculty, collected money at various social events including football games, FAMU Connection performances and convocation.

In order to receive aid from Southern Hospitality, students must fill out forms to let the organization know what they need help with and what needs are immediate. The students are then contacted in order to make sure their needs are met.

Keira Ebanks, a member of the biological and agricultural sciences engineering program, said that she received aid after hurricane Katrina struck.

“I didn’t need money for books or rent because I stay on campus, but the organization paid my tuition for the semester when my mother wasn’t able to,” Ebanks said.

Ebanks, 18, a freshman student from New Orleans, said that the money was received within four business days.

After receiving help, Ebanks decided to help other students. She started going to meetings and joined Southern Hospitality in its efforts.

“It’s a great cause, and I’ve heard other officials say that it will still be around for other students,” Ebanks said.

For more information contact Agnew at, or visit http://www.fam

Contact Darian Magee at