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Minnesota colleges with strong connection to the Bahamas chipping in after Hurricane Dorian

Updated: September 19, 2019 10:13 AM

Two neighboring colleges in Minnesota have a strong connection to the Bahamas, and this week they're doing their part to help out the country after the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian.

Kyle McKinney is from Nassau, Bahamas, and just weeks into his junior year at St. John's University, he learned about what the storm did to his home country. 

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"It was just devastating, I was heartbroken to see my country like that," said McKinney.

McKinney's family is okay, but he said it's still hard to see some of the pictures of the damage.

"It was really damaging to me to be honest, it weighed on my mind a lot," McKinney said.

Nearly 70 Bahamian students combined go to St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict. School officials say that's a record number.

"We've had a historical link with the Bahamas, the Benedictines had a church and an abbey for a while and a school in the Bahamas," said Dr. Eugene McAllister, interim president at St. John's University.  

McAllister said the presence of Bahamians on campus is gradually growing. He said after the storm, when some students couldn't reach their families, they made sure to help.

"We were concerned about them having some sense of power that they were unable to do something about this situation," McAllister said. 

Now, students at the neighboring colleges are chipping in. So far, a student-led fundraiser is up to nearly $40,000 for disaster relief. Plus, during the upcoming family weekend, contributions will be accepted at the football game and mass.

"I expect, not only us being able to make contributions, but putting our arm around a young man or woman and saying, 'hang in there, we're with you,'" McAllister said. 

While McKinney is 1,700 miles away, he said this college campus makes him feel at home.

"It's basically like coming back to high school to be honest," McKinney said.

McKinney said he's grateful for what both schools are doing to help his homeland.

"It gives me a good feeling to know that my school cares," McKinney said. "It just shows that they actually do care about us Bahamians and international students here."

If you'd like to help, you can donate to their fundraiser here.

Hurricane Dorian coverage

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Brett Hoffland

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