Harvard will extend a helping hand to the 40 families left homeless after last weekend's eight alarm fire in Central Square.
University officials yesterday announced their participation in a comprehensive relief effort including a raffle and fundraising dinner to aid those displaced by the fire.
In addition to Harvard's cash donation, which administrators say will be about $5,000, University officials are also seeking donations of money, furniture, small household items such as dishes and lamps, non-perishable foods and warm clothing.
"A tragedy of this magnitude is something that affects us all, and we want to respond in some way that will be meaningful," said MaryAnn Jarvis, associate director of community relations for Harvard.
"We want to make it easy for people in our community to respond," she said.
Jarvis said the Harvard effort was conceived at a meeting with Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72 Wednesday at Cambridge City Hall.
Reeves said many of the fire victims are recent immigrants without relatives in the area and may not have friends to turn to for assistance. No one was injured in the fire, which gutted a five-story apartment building and severely damaged another.
At the meeting, which was attended by about 40 community leaders and concerned citizens, Reeves and Carl F. Barron, president of the Central Square Association, announced they had formed the Central Square Fire Committee, which will work to aid those displaced last weekend.
Acting Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs Jane H. Corlette said Jarvis and Director of Community Relations Happy Green were spearheading the effort.
Corlette said this is not the first time Harvard has given money for special assistance projects. She said, however, that the University has limited resources to allocate to such efforts.
Jarvis said community leaders are also encouraging concerned citizens to attend a fundraising dinner scheduled for Oct. 16 at the Middle East restaurant in Central Square.
At the dinner, a $1,000 savings bond, cameras, hotel stays and many other prizes will be raffled, according to a University statement. Raffle tickets may be purchased for $10 each at the Harvard community affairs office.
"We hope the entire community will donate clothing or food or whatever they can spare to help these families get restarted," Jarvis said.
Donations will be accepted at the Harvard Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs, located at 2 Garden St.