Most days, when students walk into O’Donovan Hall, they greet Altragracia Sanchez, Leo’s well-known employee, with a smile and maybe a hello.

But this week, the Georgetown Solidarity Committee is asking for students to offer canned food and monetary donations after Sanchez’s home was severely damaged in a house fire Wednesday night.

The fundraiser was initiated when dining hall workers approached GSC member Sara Wallace-Keeshen (SFS ’09) to organize support for Sanchez within the Georgetown community.

“When we were in the cafeteria on Friday afternoon, a worker pulled us aside and told me what happened and asked for any kind of support, given Altagracia’s close relationship with Georgetown students, in response to the fire,” Wallace-Keeshen said. “One of our main tenets is responding to the wants of our workers. A worker actually sought a GSC member out and this was a really important means of trying to mobilize the community.”

With the help of other organizations such as Hoya Outreach Programs and Education, GSC will be tabling in Red Square this week to collect food and monetary donations. GSC has also enlisted the help of other campus organizations, including Nomadic Theatre, Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society, the Latin American Student Association and College Democrats.

“A lot of groups that don’t necessarily have anything to do with labor rights have been getting involved,” GSC member Sarah David Heydemann (COL ’09) said.

GSC is soliciting donations on campus in Red Square and online through GSC’s PayPal account on its web site.

“GSC works with campus workers who’ve felt excluded, ignored and in some cases struggled against injustice on campus,” Wallace-Keeshen said. “It is really important to support Altagracia and show that Georgetown really does care about Georgetown’s workers. We can send a very powerful message via this effort.”

Wallace-Keeshen also said that Georgetown students have a responsibility to try to help Sanchez.

“The most important thing she needs now is for us to continue showing support as a community and making it known that students care about Georgetown workers as a community,” she said.

She also said that donations are particularly important for Sanchez, as she is the mother of three children. She added that there are other ways students can help, such as by contributing clothing and culinary supplies.

Wallace-Keeshen added she cannot disclose any information about how much has been raised out of respect to Sanchez.

According to Heydemann, the large response is indicative of an increase in respect and support on the part of the Georgetown community.

“We see this as an opportunity to support the Georgetown community as a whole. It is the mission of [GSC] to show support for all members of the campus,” she said.

– Hoya Staff Writer Amelia Salutz contributed to this report.

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