One week ago, a fire destroyed one of the buildings in The Park at State College apartment complex. Thankfully, all the residents of building 13 were evacuated safely, and no one suffered any injuries. However, dozens of students are now displaced from their homes and coping with the loss of their belongings due to heat and water damage.
Disaster can strike at any time, and knowing how to handle the aftermath can be a challenge. Jiggy Yoon, a Penn State alum and former Valley cover-girl who lost her home to a fire at the age of 17, reached out to us to offer some advice to the students affected by the fire. “This is not the time to be shy to ask for help,” says Yoon, “the entire State College community is coming together for you.”
Currently, there are several organizations working to assist the residents of building 13. The Family Clothesline, where Jiggy works, is donating a truck-load of clothing to the students. The Red Cross and Lion Pantry are organizing free care packages. Penn State’s Office of Student Affairs has made counseling services and academic assistance available to the students affected by the fire. Residence Life is also helping to find on-campus housing for the displaced students for the remainder of the semester.
The Park reacted quickly to the incident and arranged for overnight lodging the day of the fire, plus care packages with toiletries, food and comfortable clothing for all the victims. The Park management has been working closely with the University and local organizations to ensure that the affected students are taken care of.
As far as personal support goes, Jiggy explained that the best kind of care for victims of a tragedy like this is to be open, warm and allow them time to process. “Asking, ‘Do you need anything?’ can go such a long way,” says Yoon, “Be patient. It’s okay if you can’t empathize, not everyone goes through situations like this. Let them ramble. Let them take their time trying to figure out their words and sentences.”
The forty-eight residents of building 13 are still coping with the loss of their belongings and many are in need of alternative housing for the summer. If anyone would like to help make their transition easier, there are currently two online fundraisers accepting donations.
A Barnes and Noble Student Emergency Fund has been set up through the Associated Student Activities office. The ASA office in room 240 of the HUB will accept cash or check donations, as well as credit card donations online. To donate online, follow this link and select the “Other” option under the “University-wide” section, then write “Barnes & Noble Student Emergency Fund ASA #9024” in the description box.
You can also donate to the GoFundMe page started by a resident of The Park, which has raised over $1,500 for the victims in the last 24 hours.