On March 28, 2019, a fire broke out in Southview, one of James Madison University's off-campus housing units. Videos and pictures of the scene spread across campus faster than the fire did. A confirmed total of 43 students lost absolutely everything they owned including their homes at JMU. While all of the students who lived in the building are alive and accounted for, a few of their pets did not make it out of the blaze.
It didn't take long before someone started up a GoFundMe for the students who lost everything. Within three hours, the original goal was already met and the fund was, and still is, trending. As of right now, the JMU and Harrisonburg community raised $80,875 for the students affected. Additionally, many organizations have set up donation centers where people can drop of clothes, toiletries, non-perishable food, and other necessities for the victims as well as hosting dinners and offering places to stay.
JMU is rallying around these 43 students in so many ways. The university itself is working to provide accommodations from laptops to meal plans. Social media is playing a huge role in bringing awareness to this horrible situation with clubs and organizations using their platforms to spread the word of where you can drop off donations and what kind of fundraisers are being conducted.
This is a prime example of the importance of a strong community. In the wake of a horrible event, everyone is coming forward with overwhelming support. It's truly amazing how much was done in just a few hours in order to make sure everyone was going to be ok. JMU is one of the best communities in the world because even though someone might not know one of the victims personally, everyone was and is ready and willing to help. "Dukes help Dukes" seems to be the best motto for this situation.
I'm proud to be a part of such a proactive, supportive, and strong community such as the one at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It's one of the main reasons I decided to come to this school. I can't even begin to imagine what this whole situation would be like if JMU wasn't a strong community. But we are and we will stop at nothing until every single one of those 43 students are back on their feet and even then, the support will continue. Because that's what being a JMU Duke is about.
For full details of the fire, check out WHSV's full coverage of it here.
If you would like to donate to the GoFundMe, go here.
If you would like to donate items to the cause, email firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate what to bring and where to drop it off.