KSU plans Biloxi relief trip for Spring Break

Bryan Wroten

Students at Kent State have an alternative to the stereotypical spring break.

They would still be near the Gulf of Mexico and getting a tan.

But instead of partying, the volunteers for Kent State United for Biloxi would be rebuilding homes and clearing debris.

President Carol Cartwright made the announcement yesterday during the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

“We have to do what it takes to help,” said Ron Perkins, assistant director of University Dining Services.

The program will send student, faculty and staff volunteers to Biloxi, Miss., as relief effort to the area, Perkins said. As co-chair of the project, Perkins said he’s hoping to have 500 volunteers. He said he realizes 500 sounds like a lot when they only have 80 volunteers as of yesterday, but it doesn’t matter.

“We might have more, we might have less,” he said. “I’m going anyway.”

Working with Perkins are Gary Padak, dean of Undergraduate Studies, and George Garrison, professor of Pan-African Studies. Garrison has already done some relief work in the Gulf area with the Kent State Hurricane Relief Coalition. Though Biloxi was originally the area he hoped to help, he said they were unable to access the area because of the damage.

Padak said the program will cost volunteers $461, which averages out to about $66 a day, including food, lodging and transportation. He said there will be fund-raising to help reimburse volunteers after the trip. While being able to fully reimburse volunteers would be ideal, he said they will most likely just reduce the cost to $250 per volunteer.

Students can receive course credit for volunteering, Padak said. Those already enrolled in Perkins’ Learning to Serve, Serving to Learn course have the opportunity to earn credit for helping with the relief effort, he said. Those not in the class can sign up for a special topics course for one credit hour. The course number is US 20095 ST: KS United for Biloxi Serve Learn.

Perkins said the deadline for joining his class is today, but he is trying to extend it for the program.

Garrison said volunteers would help rebuild houses, muck out houses, clear away debris, provide tutorial services for children and help churches.

“We’re not suffering delusions that we are going to make a great impact,” he said. “We think that whatever help we can do, in conjunction with what everyone else is doing, will actually make a big solution to the problems.”

For more information about Kent State United for Biloxi, go to http://explore.kent.edu/ksunited.

Contact minority affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected].