Latinos Unidos at Clemson University, a student group created to serve Clemson’s Hispanic and Latinx community, started a fundraising campaign to aid members of that community affected by the escalating economic impact of the nation’s coronavirus lockdown.
“Usually we try to serve through cultural, educational or social events, but right now our community is being hit particularly hard by this pandemic,” said Club President Claudia Wong, a junior studying bioengineering. Wong and the other five members of the executive board quickly shifted the club’s focus when they witnessed the rapidly growing need and brainstormed the best ways to use the club’s platform to help the local Hispanic/Latinx community.
“We decided that it would be most effective to raise funds and awareness. We considered various nonprofits, but chose Hispanic Alliance because they have a similar mission to serve the Upstate Hispanic/Latinx population,” said Wong, noting the Hispanic Alliance has a proven track record of helping people on the Clemson campus. Partnering with them to give people a way to help made sense to the group. She said every dollar is needed because the aid will help those who are most vulnerable to the devastating effects of COVID-19.
The pandemic has impacted the Hispanic/Latinx community disproportionally, with 49% of Hispanic households having experienced pay cuts or job losses, compared to 33% of the whole U.S. population. Additionally, many in the Latinx community are most worried by their current financial situations, leading them to risk their health in frontline jobs. Only 16% of Hispanic workers are able to telecommute, compared to 31% of non-Hispanics.
Falling ill is a serious issue with Latinos, because they collectively make up the population with the lowest rates of health insurance in the U.S. Only 38% of Hispanics in low-wage jobs have some form of health coverage. People of color who do get the virus are at higher risk of serious illness due to higher rates of underlying health conditions and difficulty accessing care.
Julio Hernandez, chief of staff and director for Hispanic outreach in Clemson University’s Division of Inclusion and Equity, said it’s always inspiring to see how Clemson students rally to aid people in need, but even more so now as they themselves are experiencing the limitations of the nationwide lockdown.
“I am very proud of our Latinos Unidos students, who through their leadership are taking ownership of their communities’ success,” said Hernandez. “It’s definitely a great reminder that small acts, when multiplied by many people, can bring positive transformation to the world.”
The fundraiser will be open all summer and had raised more than $14,000 shortly after it began, with Latinos Unidos itself matching the first $2,000 and Southeastern Products matching $5,000.
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