Days after the earthquake struck Northern California last month, faculty, staff and students at Cal State Dominguez Hills adopted the city of Watsonville and began collecting money to send to the community in California's agricultural heartland.
A fund was established and a two-week fund-raising goal of $5,000 was set.
But students in the school's music department wanted to do more than just ask for money. So they produced a cassette of their best work, and gave it to anyone making a $10 donation.
"We wanted to do something creative . . . something in our specialty," said Dan Blessinger, a senior, who was a recording engineer for one of the songs.
The nine selections--including an eerie guitar instrumental, a funky tune about a monster who could not dance and a rock song that proclaims: "Nobody ever said this would be easy"--were chosen by students in the department's Audio Recording Music Synthesis club from about 25 songs that had been recorded as semester projects.
The cassette, titled "Answering the Call," was produced and packaged so quickly--seven days from idea to first donation--that it even surprised the music students who were novices at turning a master tape into a package ready for distribution.
John Hill, club adviser and audio recording teacher, said the project "was something a lot of students could get involved with."
First reactions to the tape were "strong indifference," said John Blum, a senior and executive producer of the cassette. But once other students realized where the money would go, the donations increased, he said.
From a table strategically placed outside of the cafeteria and through off-campus soliciting, the music students have raised about $1,000, which will be given to the Dominguez Hills fund and forwarded to officials in Watsonville.
Bill Blischke, executive assistant to the president and coordinator of the school's earthquake relief fund, said Watsonville was chosen because "most of the media attention and fund-raising efforts were focused on San Francisco and Oakland.
"We decided that Watsonville, one of the hardest-hit areas, would probably need the help."
Watsonville Fire Chief Gary Smith said the situation in the small city of 29,500 people was still hectic. There are about 400 people living in four shelters and about 40 families living in a city park, he said.