A penny saved...

Beginning Wednesday, the purchase of a single card will allow students to support devastated areas while also getting good deals at local shops. That’s right: the good deals are yours. I’m talking to those of you who might not have the money to buy your sweetie flowers, eat out at a restaurant, or just order pizza. Discounts and deals on top of charity? It doesn’t get much better than this.

It’s no surprise that college students these days are reaching extra deep into their pockets for change. Money comes and goes... and goes... and goes. The $40,000 cost of attendance and $450 bag of books leave students dry. Movies this weekend? Forget it. And a college kid’s got to eat. While meal plans are the “freshman thing,” eating at Schatz night and day can definitely get old.

With students’ money tied up in such things, the rattling cans and waving signs on campus pleading for donations are often bypassed. Sure, it’s all for worthy causes—Hurricane Katrina cleanup efforts, Habitat for Humanity, and Rotoract fundraisers—but it’s hard when money’s tight. At the same time, it’s undeniable that areas devastated by the South Indian tidal wave, Hurricane Katrina, and the India-Pakistan earthquake need our help.

So what’s the solution?

Sophomore Sean J. Weinstock and junior Shabnam Aggarwal think they’ve got it. At a mere $5 per student, the Bargain Steeler Card offers discounts at local food shops ranging from Papa John’s to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. The best part is that proceeds go to disaster relief efforts. The ultimate goal is to raise $10,000.

It all started with a desire to help. Weinstock said, “There is a huge need for aid and support in whichever form it can come, [so] Shabnam Aggarwal and I decided that we should somehow try and help.” Charity considerations include the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity.

The card helps students as well — it is mainly geared toward providing students with more food options. That’s the best way to help out students, thinks Weinstock.

More food variety is an appealing prospect. While DineXtra is a nice idea, it just doesn’t cut it for some. “It really makes your options limited,” as it only works for two pizza places, first-year Tom Walko pointed out. This is really a shame when, as Walko said, much of students’ money goes to outside vendors. He added that he would need to see the bargains, though, before purchasing the card.

In addition to Papa John’s and Ben and Jerry’s, the Bargain Steeler Card offers discounts at popular places like Quiznos, Pittsburgh Deli, and Bombay Grill, among myriad other options.

The project is also motivated by student opinion. According to Weinstock, a November survey asked students if they would be willing to pay a small fee for local discounts. The survey got a positive response, which will be put to the test when the cards come out in just a few days.

Hopefully, even those students who aren’t feeling pressed for money will contribute $5 to the cause. Saving money is hard to pass up. As first-year Han Kim pointed out, “If I can save my money, why not?” Kim admits that although he’s not scrounging around for change, “saving money is a good habit to have,” adding, “if it is for goodwill ... I’ll really consider buying it.”

Although cards expire August 27, Weinstock hopes to make it a two-semester deal next year. In addition, he foresees sales expanding to other campuses, including those of Point Park University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carlow University.

To pick up a card, go to the first floor of the University Center Wednesday through Friday. After Friday, the Information Desk will have the cards available.

The bottom line: If you’re looking to save money, why not help others in the process? “It’s just a way to give back to those who were generous enough to donate,” Weinstock said.

Michael M. Whiston | Staffwriter

Editor’s Note: The Tartan advised the BSC group throughout its development due to a similar interest in helping charities and the student body.