Fifty Kentucky State University students and staff headed for New Orleans this weekend where they'll spend their spring break working to rebuild the hurricane-torn area.
The crew will spend four days helping a man gut his Ninth Ward home in New Orleans, renovating the second floor of St. Margaret's nursing home there and building two Habitat for Humanity houses in Pascagoula, Miss.
"We want our students to go down and have that experience and be a part of a different form of culture, meet the people of the Gulf and see how Hurricane Katrina affected them," said Travis Haskins, student activities coordinator for KSU.
The university has taken spring break trips in the past, Haskins said, but this year, Student Life wanted to organize a service experience for students.
"We always try to instill in them the importance of service," said Leslie Thomas, director of Student Life. "We try to specifically choose projects to show them how they can make a difference. We want them to pay it forward."
Through university funding and a student service fee, KSU was able to provide the trip at no extra cost to students. Students paid a deposit to register for the trip, which the university planned to refund when they boarded the bus Thursday night.
Haskins said the 50 bus seats were booked within a day or two after an "outpouring of support" from KSU students.
Someday they will look back, Haskins said, and remember how they helped rebuild New Orleans.
"I'm excited, I can't wait," he said. "My heart goes out still to the people of New Orleans, and I can't wait to do what I can to help someone."
Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005 and caused billions of dollars in damages.