The massive earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010, not only resulted in the deaths of an estimated 230,000 people; it left another 300,000 people injured and more than a million people homeless. As governments, charitable organizations and individuals around the world responded to the crisis, Professors Tracey George and Michael Vandenbergh drew their students’ attention to the work of AmeriCares, an international disaster relief and aid organization headed by Curtis R. Welling, Class of 1975, who has served as AmeriCares’ President and CEO since 2002. “AmeriCares provides immediate response to emergency medical needs and supports long-term humanitarian assistance programs for all people around the world,” Professor George said. “When we discussed with our students Curt’s amazing work at AmeriCares, they were inspired and eager to do something.”
In mid-January, Professor George pitted the 1Ls in her Spring 2010 Contract Law course (Section B of the Class of 2012) against those in Professor Vandenbergh’s Property course (Section A). The challenge to each 1L section: Donate the most to AmeriCares or to the American Red Cross to assist with humanitarian efforts in Haiti. Professor George and Dean Chris Guthrie promised to match Section B’s donations up to $1,000; Professor Vandenbergh and his wife, Professor Linda Breggin, made the same promise to Section B. “The students not only met the match amount, they exceeded it!” Professor George said. Members of the two classes combined donated more than $3,000 to AmeriCares or the American Red Cross, and the professors’ match of $2000 went to AmeriCares.
“Many of our students wanted to do something to support the Haitian people in the aftermath of the earthquake,” Professor Vandenbergh said. “This friendly competition allowed them to combine their gifts to make a bigger impact and learn more about a major relief organization that happens to be headed by a Vanderbilt Law graduate.”