CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Students at Xavier University (XU) took the time out of their classes to raise funds for the earthquake survivors in North Cotabato.

Carrying boxes and placards, groups of college students went around XU’s main campus along Corrales Avenue asking fellow students for donations. Some of them position themselves at the school’s entrance.

Moner Ramos-Datu, one of the student volunteers, said helping victims of calamity like the people of North Cotabato was “overwhelming.”

Ramos-Datu, a freshman at XU taking up Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, said helping those in need is a sort of “paying it forward.”

He said his family was one of those affected by the Marawi siege in 2017.

Although they are from Marantao town, Lanao del Sur, about 46 minutes away from Marawi, Ramos-Datu said they also evacuated for fear of the conflict spilling over to their area.

He said his relatives had to seek refuge in Iligan City for a few months, while he and his twin brother were staying in a dormitory at the Mindanao State University where they were studying senior high school at the time.

During that time, Ramos-Datu said they received various forms of assistance from government agencies and private entities.

“This is like giving back what we had received during the siege,” he said, adding that this is not the first time that he has been involved in doing charity as he did some volunteer work at the height of the war in Marawi.

On the first day of their donation campaign on Nov. 5, Ramos-Datu said they were able to generate almost P20,000.

It is the volunteers’ hope, he said, to raise enough money so more people could receive more assistance.

Nestor Banuag Jr., the director for Student Social Involvement and Advocacy Program (SSIAP) at XU, said the school, in coordination with Ateneo de Davao, is planning on building waterless toilets at the evacuation centers in North Cotabato, in partnership with the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce.

Launched on Nov. 4, Banuag said they are planning on bringing aid to the earthquake-hit province when the donation campaign wraps up on Nov. 16.(

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