December 15, 2005

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LEWISBURG, Pa. - Twenty-five Bucknell students and staff are headed to two hurricane-devastated towns in Mississippi as part of a service-learning trip to help with ongoing relief efforts.

The volunteers expect to assist in a variety of recovery work left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, ranging from roof building and debris cleanup to food preparation and distribution.

"I went on a Bucknell Brigade trip to Nicaragua (last year) and participated in rebuilding a community after destruction," said Gretchen Perry, a senior, in explaining her desire to go to Waveland and Bay St. Louis. "That had a big impact on my life and how I viewed the world."

The Bucknell trip co-leader said she's ready to take on whatever tasks she is assigned. "I expect to be going where I'm needed - roofing and a lot of cleanup," said Perry.

"Our goals are to assist those in need by working with professional relief providers and to learn how natural disasters impact individuals, communities, and the environment," said Janice Butler, director of service learning at Bucknell. "We want to understand what can be done to empower those affected."

The service-learning group will arrive at their tent-city base in Waveland on Jan. 7 and return Jan. 15.

The group has been collecting donations to take to the two small Gulf Coast communities that were extensively damaged in the August hurricane. Requested items include work tools - hammers, screwdrivers, utility knives, and tool belts - as well as cash that will be put toward the purchase of supplies.

Contributions will be accepted until Dec. 21 and again Jan. 3-5 at the Office of Service-Learning, 121 Taylor Hall.

The volunteers are paying their own way and will stay at the iCareVillage, one of the tent cities erected in the aftermath of the hurricane by the Morrell Foundation and used to house hurricane victims until more permanent housing was found.

Duane Griffin, an assistant professor of geography, briefed the participants on ground conditions in Waveland and will travel with the relief team. He said one of his hopes is that those involved "get a sense of what a disaster actually looks like to someone on the ground."

"This is our students' world and, hopefully, they're going to find better ways to live in it than we've found so far," said Griffin. "Hurricane frequencies are increasing and there are more people and more coastal development than ever. So, events like Katrina are going to be more and more common in coming decades. Our students need to understand what that means, and it's very hard to convey that in a classroom."

Story posted on Dec. 15, 2005


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