CARBONDALE — Allison Joseph knew from the moment she saw footage of Hurricane Harvey come through her television, she needed to act.
The director of the creative writing MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Joseph said she wanted to use the department’s history of giving support — in years past they have held events to support victims of the Joplin tornado and Superstorm Sandy — to those affected by Harvey and now Hurricane Irma.
“There’s only so much you can watch without wanting to do something,” Joseph said.
So, she and her colleagues organized Thursday’s reading in Faner Hall’s Moore Auditorium. She said the event is free and open to the public, however, Joseph added, donations are encouraged.
Joseph said for those who cannot give that day but would still like to help, she will have available handouts pointing to various organizations that may be good options.
The reading will begin at 7 p.m. and feature works of artists from either of the regions affected by Harvey and Irma. Joseph said she chose to read selected works from former SIU student and Houston native Brett Gaffney. Joseph said Gaffney was one of the first people that came to mind when she saw the news of the massive storm that was bearing down on south Texas last month.
“When things like this happen, you think of the people you know who might be affected,” she said, adding that Gaffney’s family members in Houston are all OK.
Joseph said she is hoping Thursday’s event will also celebrate the written word. She said it’s always a good thing if to use art and literature to raise some awareness and some funds in the process. She added that she also wants to remind people of the power that can be had in numbers.
Joseph said sometimes it can be easy to "just go online and make a private donation.”
Joseph also likes any chance to remind her Southern Illinois neighbors that literature is everywhere.
“I like to get out into the community and have people realize that not only is it a part of the university but also a part of the community,” she said.
Though she has not firmly settled on which charitable organization the donations will be given to, she said she is leaning toward Save the Children.
Joseph's reason found for hosting Thursday’s reading was a simple one.
“We all need to do something to make things a little better for other people," she said.
Joseph was not sure how much the event will raise and she couldn’t recall how much previous readings had brought in. However, she maintained a wait-and-see attitude.
“We will see how generous people are,” she said.