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College students use social media to rally support for Haiti

Huntington, Ind.- College students are using social media to rally support for relief efforts in Haiti.

A January Term class on grassroots marketing at Huntington University (Ind.), for example, is using the Twitter hash-tag #jterm to spread word about "J-Term Jam," a talent show and fundraising opportunity to benefit two relief organizations. They also set up a special Facebook page to support the effort.

The idea for using social media to support charitable organizations was built into the curriculum from the beginning of the course, but the devastating earthquake in Haiti galvanized action by the 25 students in the class led by instructor Andrew Hoffman (HU 2003).

"J-Term Jam" will take place at 7:00 p.m. tonight (Thursday, January 14) in the Huntington Union Building (HUB). Proceeds will benefit Concern Worldwide and Charity Water.

Meanwhile, three Huntington University graduates serving Mission of Hope: Haiti have set up a new blog to support disaster relief. It features perspective from Brad (HU 1993) and Vanessa (Herron, HU 1994) Johnson, along with photos, first-hand accounts, and opportunities to give. Their alma mater linked the blog to the university's fan page on Facebook, making updates available to more than 2,500 alumni and friends.

After the blog was launched, word of Mission of Hope's relief efforts in Haiti spread rapidly throughout northeast Indiana. Ministry connections between the third blogger, Larry Lance (HU 1980) and Star 88.3 FM general manager Melissa Montana, quickly led to the planning of an outreach and fundraising event at Pathway Community Church on Sunday, January 17, at 5:00 p.m. to benefit earthquake victims. Within hours, announcements of this event also appeared on Facebook and Twitter.

"These are just a few examples of uncounted similar scenarios playing out in college communities nationwide," said John Paff, executive director of communication at Huntington University. "Globally concerned students are using their well-honed social-media skills to advocate for organizations and causes they care about."

Update 1/14/10: HU student Andrew K Malloy (freshman, business management) posted this report on his blog late Thursday, January 14:

"This morning in our class we discussed the crisis in Haiti. Our conclusion was to all rally around Concern Worldwide and help raise money for them. Our goal is to raise $1,000 by Monday January 18th (5 days from now). This evening we have raised over $800. That is a testament to social media's power. In one day, a group of people changed course on their project and then a body of people united to aid the cause. This has truly been a blessing and amazing experience!"

Update 1/17/10: HU student Jordan Dawes reflected on J-term activism for Haiti on his blog,

Update 1/17/10: HU alumnus Brad Johnson used Skype from Mission of Hope near Port au Prince to address a benefit concert in Fort Wayne on Sunday, January 17. Sponsored by Star 88.3, the event also included remarks from HU trustee Larry Lance, area pastors Stan Buck and Ron Williams, recording artist HIllary McBride, and Congressman Mark Souder.