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Northeastern to host hurricane relief fundraiser for University of the Virgin Islands

This is a aerial view of St. Croix from Air Force 2, as Vice President Mike Pence, joined by his wife Karen Pence and Virgin Islands Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-At Large, fly in to Henry E. Rohlsen Airport in Frederiksted, U.S. Virgin Islands, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. Pence is in the U.S. Virgin Islands to get an update on the recovery efforts after the islands were socked by Hurricane Maria. (AP Photo/Ken Thomas)

The U.S. Virgin Islands were hit hard by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Three months later, approximately 50 percent of people there still don’t have power and more than 500,000 cubic yards of debris remain scattered about the territory.

And the storms didn’t spare the University of the Virgin Islands. “The devastation is pretty acute,” said Sandra King, a marketing strategist for STKing Associates LLC. King is organizing a fundraiser to benefit the University of the Virgin Islands hurricane relief effort. Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun’s office is sponsoring the event, which will take place on Saturday, Dec. 16 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Northeastern’s Alumni Center on Columbus Avenue.

“The University of the Virgin Islands faces a great challenge in rebuilding its campus,” said Aoun. “We are happy to help support the students, faculty, and staff whose lives have been impacted by these hurricanes.”

The University of the Virgin Islands lost nine buildings, resulting in $60 million worth of property damage, King said. She learned about the extent of the wreckage from her friend David Hall, president of the University of the Virgin Islands and a former member of the Northeastern leadership team. Hall served as a professor and dean of the School of Law from 1993 until 1998 when he was named university provost, a role he held until 2003.

“We are both part of the Northeastern community,” said King, who worked as a vice president of marketing at Northeastern from 2000 to 2003. “We’ve been gone for a while, but that’s our common bond.” When she and Hall decided to hold a fundraiser to benefit the University of the Virgin Islands, Hall reached out to Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun for support and asked if there was a venue on campus where they could hold the event. “President Aoun said yes immediately,” King said.

Hall will speak at the event, which will include an auction of sports memorabilia and other items. The Red Sox donated an autographed David Price jersey, and the Celtics have committed to providing an Al Horford jersey. Several local businesses, including Oleana Restaurant, Sofra Cafe and Bakery, Karma Coffee, and La Campania Restaurant have donated items for auction. STKing Associates is providing two Celtics game tickets, King said.

The primary goal is to raise about $20,000, King said, which will help provide essential supplies such as medication and gasoline to students, faculty, and staff members at the University of the Virgin Islands—some of whom have lost their homes.

“The secondary goal is to keep the spotlight on the acute need in the Virgin Islands and have our community understand that this is not recovered, and they are far, far away from recovery,” King said.