Embracing the environment

Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) has made a sincere effort over the past semester to provide assistance to the ravaged island of Haiti. But with their most well-known event coming up RAK is faced with challenges at home.

On Thursday, RAK will be hosting Hug the Lake, where students hold hands around Lake Osceola to symbolically “hug” it.

Rachel Steinhauser//The Miami Hurricane

The annual event, which promotes environmental awareness and sustainability, is open to the entire UM community.

This year, the slowed economy and the divergence of cash to aid disaster relief in Haiti conspired to dry up funds that might have gone towards to Hug the Lake.

RAK, which has a “low, low, low, low, budget,” according to president Gustavo Lang, relies on funds from donors and UM organizations to raise the $3,000 necessary to purchase event T-shirts, which help publicize the event and increase student participation. Last year, the Butler Center for Service and Leadership (SLC) was able to swing most of the cost with help from Student Government, Hillel and Hurricane Productions. The year before, T-shirts were generously donated by President Donna Shalala.

Lang and the rest of the RAK executive board were willing to settle for event buttons, until Lang encountered his friend Jordan Balke and stopped to chat.

When Lang mentioned that RAK wasn’t going to be able to order shirts, Balke immediately offered to look into donating discretionary funds from her special interest housing group, C.A.S.T.L.E. (Canes Advocating a Substance Temperate Living Environment), and her employer, Kaplan, to cover the cost of ordering shirts.

Two hours later, Lang was dancing in the breezeway, elated that this year’s event would still feature “Larry the Lake” T-shirts.

Ultimately, money from C.A.S.T.L.E and ULive ULearn, Lang’s special interest floor, totaled $1,500.

“The most difficult task at RAK is fund-raising money for Hug The Lake every year,” RAK President emeritus Kemy Joseph said.

Club funds awarded by SAFAC each year are based mostly on club size, and with little more than 15 steady members, RAK feels more like a family than a club.

But that’s the way they like it.

“We come together as a family because we believe we should have fun while doing good,” Lang said. “Everything you give us, we’re turning around and giving right back to you.”

Savanna Stiff may be contacted at sstiff@themiamihurricane.com.