Katrina: One Year Later

Heather Scarlett

Kent State’s relief effort continues

Freshman education major Lauren McKinney passes a bookbag full of school supplies down the assembly line. McKinney and other members of the Centennial Leadership Academy packed supplies for Biloxi, Miss., children Friday at the King-Kennedy Center in Rave

Credit: John Proppe

Since Kent State’s United for Biloxi group’s first relief efforts during spring break, the organization has been itching to get back to rebuilding the Hurricane Katrina disaster area.

As a project for the fall semester, Gary Padak, dean of Undergraduate Studies and one of the main leaders for the group, said the group’s planning committee is donating school supplies to Gulf Coast children in East Biloxi.

Lucille Bennett, director of the East Biloxi Community Center, was one of the people the group worked with in March, Padak said.

Bennett had called Kent State and said there was a need for school supplies, said Ann Gosky, associate director of the Center for Student Involvement.

Children in kindergarten through 12th grade needed to have a lot of supplies donated, and the organization wanted to get as many supplies as possible in the shortest period of time, he explained.

Supplies had to be delivered by last Thursday and included items such as notebooks, crayons and gift cards to places such as Wal-mart and Office Max for school necessities.

The supplies were then packaged and shipped by Kent State freshmen and members of the Centennial Leadership Academy and King Kennedy Community Center, Gosky said.

When the supplies are delivered, Gosky said, they will be distributed to students by members of the East Biloxi Community Center.

The United for Biloxi group is not stopping with donations; it is also planning future trips during the spring semester.

“We are tentatively planning two trips,” said Padak. “The first after New Years for about one week. It will be a small group of about 100 people.

The second will be during spring break and a limit has not been set for the number of people to go so far, he added.

Now, Padak said, the biggest need in Biloxi is for skilled labor, which is something the group will be working on before they return to the South.

Padak said students still need to be trained for dry walling and roofing.

Another project in the works is Project Playhouse – an activity set up for interior design students to help fund the Biloxi trip, he said.

Since group members promised to finish the projects they started during Spring Break, they went back in late May to complete their work, he said.

As for next semester’s trip, the group is planning on improving areas such as transportation and organization from what took place during Spring Break.

“We just want to make sure we make some sort of contribution,” Padak said.

Contact academic affairs reporter Heather Scarlett at [email protected]