As part of “What a Relief,” a national effort organized by Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR), 26 Wittenberg students and five staff members will join an 1,100-volunteer contingent representing more than 60 academic institutions in the gulf coast from March 5-10. One of five universities in the state of Ohio participating in the relief effort, Wittenberg will send students to Biloxi, Miss., one of four designated work sites for the LDR relief effort in Mississippi and Alabama.
A collaborative ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), LDR assists individuals, families and congregations in communities helping with disaster responses across the nation.
An additional 50 Wittenberg students are participating in an even larger relief effort through the national organization Campus Crusade for Christ. Members of the affiliated Wittenberg organization, Primetime, are planning to travel to Pass Christian, Miss., where they will join more than 6,000 college students representing more than 100 universities. This relief effort will be spread out among several locations, including New Orleans and Slidell, La.
The Wittenberg contingent will also include one student from another college that is not participating, two community volunteers and a Campus Crusade for Christ staff member. The entire party will ride a chartered bus to and from Mississippi thanks to private donations.
“This is an excellent opportunity for us to show God’s love in a practical way,” said Arthur Kraatz, class of 2006 from Strongsville, Ohio, one of the student leaders of the Campus Crusade for Christ trip. “These are people who have lost everything. I hope it will be meaningful that college students are giving up some free time to help them get their lives back in order.”
University Pastor Rachel Tune, Director of Community Service Kristen Collier and Laura Seaman, an Americorps VISTA volunteer in the Community Service Office, have lent a helping hand to organization of both trips. Students have shown significant initiative, however, and a heart-warming desire to make a difference.
“Offering these opportunities to our students gives them a chance to realize how they can use their knowledge, skills and talents to benefit others,” Collier said. “We are always looking for ways to teach students that contributing to the well-being of our fellow citizens is a priority.”
Pass Christian was one of the hardest hit areas in the entire gulf coast when Hurricane Katrina brought a 38-foot storm surge ashore, destroying more than 70 percent of the homes in the town of approximately 7,000 people. Campus Crusade for Christ students have already cleaned and gutted 500 flooded homes left standing after Katrina, and the relief coordinator for the area has stated that students will work alongside skilled contractors to re-build at least 200 of those homes during the Spring Break trip.
Founded in 1951, Campus Crusade for Christ is one of the largest interdenominational organizations in the world and is active on 1,298 U.S. college campuses.
"The need is so enormous that I can’t imagine not being involved with this relief effort,” Tune said. "Caring for others flows directly from our identity as a university related to the Lutheran church.
“It’s part of our calling to learn about the world around us, to understand the concerns that others face, and to respond to the neighbor in need — whether near or far — with love and compassion.”
- Ryan Maurer
(Wittenberg News Release - 1/17/06)
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