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TWU Home > Marketing & Communication > News Releases


TWU students help Katrina victims during spring break


DENTON — Instead of sunny beaches or snow-topped mountains, 14 TWU students and two staff advisors headed east for an alternative spring break to help victims of Hurricane Katrina in Biloxi, Miss.

The TWU group joined hundreds of other college students from around the country in assisting the Hands On Network in their recovery efforts in the Biloxi area.

The TWU group stayed in an empty dorm at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and worked long days doing everything from removing mold and gutting houses to removing debris in order to rebuild a walking trail.

“Many of the students had never picked up a hammer before, only to discover that they could do much more than they thought,” said Candi Westbrook, volunteer coordinator for the TWU Center for Student Development, who organized the trip. “Even with all of the work we did, I think most of us were surprised about how much devastation is still there.”

Jason Waller, a senior majoring in psychology, wasn’t shocked at what he saw. “Being from Biloxi, I knew the devastation was still overwhelming and the work that needs to be done will last for years.”

The trip cost $9,000 for the 16 participants to attend. The group received a $4,500 matching grant from the United Way of Denton County with the rest coming from fundraisers and donations from faculty and staff. Each participant also paid $100 to go on the trip.

“The support from the TWU and Denton communities was amazing,” Mrs. Westbrook said. “It really showed how everyone cared about what we were doing.”
Mr. Waller is thankful that he and his fellow students were able to help his hometown.

“This trip was a life changing event,” he said. “Many people have misconceptions about Mississippi and how life is there. I think this trip gave students the opportunity to see how we as a people are alike and can help in other in times of need. The students on the trip all feel that we have united as a family and will continue to serve and educate people about Katrina and its effects.”

Mrs. Westbrook plans to continue the tradition of an annual alternative spring break, offering an out-of-state volunteer project every other year.


For Further Information Contact:

Amanda McKeen Simpson
Director of News and Information
Tel: (940) 898-3456
e-mail: asimpson1@twu.edu

Page last updated January 22, 2009

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