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St. Olaf students join coronavirus aid initiative

Three St. Olaf students have joined hundreds of other college students and recent graduates across the country as part of the COVID-19 Aid for All initiative, which aims to expand stimulus funding to more groups of people affected by the coronavirus.

A recent graduate of Pomona College started the initiative on April 1. Julia Himmelberger ’22, Jacob Schimetz ’21 and Anna Mulhern ’22 have since joined, representing St. Olaf from their homes off campus. 

The initiative is focused around regional efforts to advocate legislatures to alter future aid packages for U.S. citizens affected by the coronavirus. The initial stimulus package released by the Trump administration excluded many groups, including individuals who earn an annual gross income over $75,000, undocumented immigrants and teens and college-aged students who partially rely on their parents for support.

The primary goal of COVID-19 Aid for All is the extension of the $1,200 checks to “all adults, regardless of tax, immigration, or disability status.” The initiative also aims to offer unemployment benefits to all new entrants into the labor force and provide free COVID-19 testing and treatment. 

Part of the initiative includes a Google form for individuals to share their respective stories about how COVID-19 is affecting them. According to Himmelberger, the form has received a wide range of responses, from college students who have not gotten the check but live on their own, to disabled workers who haven’t gotten the check because they rely on others for care.

Another part of the initiative is a petition to the House of Representatives and Senate to include all adults in the next aid package. At the time of writing, the petition has over 650 signatures.

A primary tactic of the initiative is contacting local representatives to voice concerns and pushing them to vote on measures to extend the next aid package. Members across the country have contacted local representatives primarily through phone calls, while some are attempting to set up Zoom meetings with their legislatures.

Himmelberger said that she joined the initiative because she feels it is an extremely important issue and believes it essential to advocate for those left out of the original bill. She encourages people to sign the petition and to become part of the initiative in any way possible if their time allows. 

A link to the petition and response form can be found at the initiative’s Facebook page, COVID-19 Aid for All. The initiative can also be contacted through email at covid19aidforall@gmail.com.