Evanston raises over $12,000 in month-long campaign for hurricane relief


David Fishman/Daily Senior Staffer

A sign advertising “Give for the Gulf” outside Whiskey Thief, 616 Davis St. The month-long effort to support victims of recent hurricanes raised more than $12,000.

David Fishman, Print Managing Editor

Evanston community members raised more than $12,000 in a month-long fundraiser for those affected by this year’s hurricane season.

The fundraising effort, dubbed “Give for the Gulf,” brought together more than a dozen local businesses and organizations to raise relief funds. It also laid the framework for future natural disasters through a Facebook page called “Evanston Giving” that will promote similar efforts.

Three devastating hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria — that battered U.S. coastlines in quick succession in September left dozens dead and billions of dollars in damage. According to the Weather Channel, September was the most active month on record for Atlantic hurricanes.

Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty, whose emergency management consulting firm helped lead local fundraising efforts, said he liked the model of bringing in local businesses to support the cause. “Give for the Gulf,” the fundraising effort, included several events throughout the city at which organizations shared a percentage of their profits.

“We’re coming together to do something good for these other communities that have really been adversely impacted,” Hagerty said. “We’re building community in Evanston through these events and we’re also supporting local businesses.”

Despite the ambitious effort, Hagerty said he wondered if a single event that marshalled the community in an immediate response might be more effective. He pointed out that a fundraiser for Nepalese earthquake survivors in 2015 — also organized by Hagerty Consulting — raised more than $15,000 in just one night.

Though “Give for the Gulf” fell short of that mark, some of the funds raised during September will be matched by local organizations including Hagerty Consulting, Grumman/Butkus Associates and Multilingual Connections, said Laura Scherb, who works for Hagerty Consulting. She added that the money would go to three charities: American Red Cross, Team Rubicon and a Rotary International relief fund.

Team Rubicon, a non-government agency highlighted at the fundraiser’s final event, sends teams to disaster epicenters to end suffering and save lives. The organization consists of more than 60,000 volunteers, roughly 70 percent of whom are veterans.

Team Rubicon district coordinator Andrew Hanna, who served in the U.S. Army from 2000 to 2004, said he joined the organization to find a “sense of purpose.”

“You sort of lose the sense of purpose that you had when you were in the military,” Hanna said. “Finding an organization like Team Rubicon with a very clear purpose where you get to … help people get back to normal after what’s probably the worst day of their life really makes a big impact on you.”

Team Rubicon has deployed volunteers to many recent disaster sites including Puerto Rico, Dominica, Texas and Florida — places where recovery efforts will likely take years. Hagerty said he hopes the Evanston community will keep victims in their thoughts and continue to donate.

“It’s a bit overwhelming because when we started this fundraiser it was really focused on Texas, then two weeks later Irma struck and now we practically have a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico,” Hagerty said. “People are hurting really bad and they are going to be for a long time.”

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