Students raise money for Thomas’s funeral expenses

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Tiffany Thomas, a contracted worker through Sodexo who worked at Bruff Commons, was killed in a shooting on Jan. 31 in Pine Village. Students responded by fundraising to support her family’s financial expenses for the funeral.

Thomas, often referred to by students as Miss Tiffany, was known amongst students for her spot at the omelet station and for her consistently positive, caring attitude.

A GoFundMe campaign created by freshman and Hullabaloo staff member Ella Helmuth has raised more than $4,700 since Feb. 2. The overall goal of the campaign is $10,000.

Helmuth created the fundraiser after speaking with Thomas’ family. She said she decided that helping with funeral expenses was the most effective effort students could provide during this time.

“Tiffany was a sweet, funny and compassionate person,” Helmuth wrote in the page’s description. “She had so many responsibilities and things on her mind, and yet she was bright and kind to us each and every day.”

Freshman Ryan Boden said Thomas was always a positive energy in Bruff. 

“She did so much for Tulane’s community, while asking for so little in return,” Boden said. “In fact, so many students often take advantage of Sodexo workers as they become so familiar to us, it makes it easy to forget each worker has their own family, their own life and that they are taking time out of their days to serve us students.”

Boden said he feels it almost seems like too small of a thank you to simply donate to Thomas’ funeral fund after everything she has done for students like himself, but he hopes it will show Thomas’ family how much she meant to the Tulane community.

Another fundraiser hosted by PeachWave Magazine took place on Feb. 4 at TJ Quill’s. The event was originally designed to support the American Civil Liberties Union in the wake of President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, but the event’s organizers decided to add an additional opportunity for attendees to donate money to Thomas’ funeral fund.

According to senior and event organizer Jacqueline McLennan, donors at the event contributed $100 to Thomas’ funeral fund.

“Over the years, Tiffany, like so many other Bruff employees, has made my experience at Tulane feel more like a community,” McLennan said. “The intention behind the ACLU of Louisiana fundraiser was to be an active part of the community and make a real impact, even if small. Tiffany was a part of the Tulane community and when I heard about her death I thought it was more than appropriate to include her in the event’s collection.”

Executive Director of Public Relations Michael Strecker said the university only sends official emails notifying the community of student deaths. Campus-wide emails are not sent in the event of a faculty or staff member’s death. Strecker also said that there were two other faculty member deaths in the last two weeks, neither of which prompted an official email statement.

“President [Michael] Fitts sent personal notes of condolence to their families, as he did to the family of Tiffany Thomas,” Strecker said. “But as a matter of practicality, given the size of our employed community, as well as respect for the privacy of their families, public statements were not issued.”

Thomas’ funeral service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at DW Rhodes Chapel. Visitation begins at 10:30 a.m.