A Gulfport break

Published:

The Daily Independent, Ashland

Like thousands of other college students, 117 Morehead State University volunteers headed south for spring break. But instead of spending their vacation partying on the beaches of Florida, these students and faculty members spent their week off from studies cleaning and rebuilding houses in Gulfport, Miss., where relief work continues seven months after Hurricane Katrina.

In so doing, they joined hundreds of other area residents, ranging from high school students to senior citizens, who have traveled to the Gulf Coast to help residents recover from Katrina. Thousands more have sent monetary donations, clothing, building materials and other items to the area.

The MSU students, all of whom paid their own way to the area, said they were stunned by the amount of devastation that remains in the area.

Were so removed from it at home, said Ashley Allen, a graduate student from Ashland. You need to be here to experience it. ...

Volunteers have made a big difference, said William Breazelle, a Gulfport resident whose home was worked on by a team of MSU students. Without them, I dont think wed have survived. ... This is a godsend.

The MSU volunteers, which included President Wayne Andrews and other faculty, worked eight hours a day and slept in sparse quarters at an old National Guard armory. In teams of 10, they did roofing, drywall, interior painting and general cleanup.

And like other college kids on spring break, the MSU volunteers also got to the beach, only they were cleaning up debris, instead of catching some rays.

We commend them for their unselfish sacrifice and for reminding us that volunteers still are needed in Gulf Coast communities. There still is much work to be done.

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