Although the bitterly cold wind was less than ideal this past Saturday night, the College Green hosted the warm hearts of about 60 students who huddled together to show their support and pray for the victims of Haiti at a candlelight vigil sponsored by the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.
Heading the effort on behalf of IVCF, sophomore Samantha Lillpopp decided to take a proactive stance on the tragedy by raising awareness immediately upon returning for the semester by setting out a prayer wall in the College Union during the first week of classes. The messages from the prayer wall will be sent to the people of Haiti so they can "be read by the people who they're meant for," Lillpopp said.
The tragedy in Haiti has egged away at everyone's consciousness, but Lillpopp took the hit pretty hard, because some of her family lives in Haiti. Furthermore, her father recently went on a mission's trip to Haiti in November. Luckily for Lillpopp, her friends are safe, but she feels for those who weren't as fortunate.
"I immediately contacted Pastor Dave who is our advisor and asked him if we could put something together and this is what we came up with," Lillpopp said. "We are working with the campus administration and a bunch of other organizations together for a more long term project to keep the focus on Haiti even after the initial search for help wears off. We wanted to really keep it in people's minds during the first week of school."
In Lillpopp's view, the aim of the vigil was to show the people of Haiti that the Geneseo community cares for them. "We haven't forgotten them," she said. "It really has affected people, even in Geneseo. I would just like to show our love to them."
Sophomore Kyle Capel, a member of IVCF, said that he was happy to see a lot of prayers on the wall. "It's the least we can do," Capel said.
After many unsuccessful attempts to light candles with the typical blustery winds, those who gathered sang a rendition of "Amazing Grace" and took some time to reflect on Haiti's misfortunes and pray.
Senior Ellyn Jameson was one of many students who attended the vigil. "I care about what's going on in Haiti," she said. "I'm in Face AIDS and we are thinking about doing some tabling and fundraising because a lot of people don't know much of the background of how bad it was down there, even to begin with. We are putting together a benefit concert/performance. It's very much in the planning sessions."
The news of the earthquake also hit home for senior Leann Staines, who has many friends in Haiti. "A lot of their families have been affected so that's one of the main reasons I'm here," she said. "I just want to support them."
Freshman Keena Anthony expressed similar reasons as to why she went to the Vigil. "I have a lot of friends who are Haitian and I know a lot of friends who have a lot of family down there and I came to support them," she said.
Brian Hartle, a senior, said that he was impressed with the amount of student turnout for a cold Saturday night.
IVCF will be hosting a prayer night on Jan. 28 for more directed prayers on specific issues such as health care and rebuilding. The event is open to the entire campus and community and will be held in Newton 214 at 7:30 p.m.