New Orleans Times-Picayune
Thursday 23 March 2006, 7:17 am
Thousands of college students who might have spent spring break sunning in Acapulco or on Florida beaches this year are pouring into New Orleans to sleep in dormitory tents or on classroom floors, eat off paper plates and spend a week of vacation hauling foul muck out of homes ruined by floodwaters.
- Campus Crusade for Christ, a network of campus ministries, has sent 4,400 students to New Orleans this week, the peak of the spring break season, spokesman Tony Arnold said.
- The Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board has more than 1,500 students here this week, spokesman Steve Manfredi said.
- Common Ground Collective, a secular grassroots organization of young social progressives, has about 1,000 students on the ground doing demolition, health care, day care, after-school tutoring and other tasks, said Lisa Fithian, a veteran activist from Austin who has been in New Orleans since September.
- Opportunity Rocks 2006: Rebuilding the Gulf Coast, a network led by former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., has nearly 700 college students from 27 states working in Chalmette.
- United Methodist churches around New Orleans are housing and dispatching more than 1,000 students to work sites daily during this week, said the Rev. Yvonne Dayries, a coordinator at the denomination's headquarters in Baton Rouge.
- Lutheran encampments in Metairie, Kenner and St. Tammany house 300 volunteers working around the region.
Four major encampments in Chalmette, Algiers, at City Park and in the Lower 9th Ward house more than 5,000 students.
Many more are bedded down in independent churches or private homes.
The students are scattered around the area, but most are concentrated in the flood zones of New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish.
In shorts and rubber boots, bandannas and face masks, they immerse themselves in the wreckage. Often a boom box pumps out music to relieve the work. But the experience remains sobering.