JMU Students Make a Difference in Biloxi

By: Lauren McKay
By: Lauren McKay

More than 50 JMU students are back fom the Gulf Coast where they spent the last week helping with hurricane relief efforts. "I thought I was entering a war zone, you went from one city that had all the houses fine and then you'd literally, there was just a line and houses were down and x's showing how many people lived in the house and how many people were found in the house," says Stephany Herzog, student volunteer. The images seen on T.V. of the destruction Hurricane Katrina left behind became a reality for 54 JMU students. They spent a week in Biloxi Mississippi removing debris from homes. "It's just amazing to see that kind of raw force of nature and what it's capable of and the humbling experience both meeting the people down there, talking to them, hearing their stories, as well as just seeing it first hand," says Stephen Atwell, student volunteer. When talking to the residents, the students heard many stories of survival. "One guy that I talked to had actually been in Vietnam and he was in the Navy and he said that this was twenty times worse and actually he said thank goodness I was in the Navy because I know how to swim; he swam to his brother's house in the waves to get away," says Marissa Bonaiuto, student volunteer. Beyond all the devastation there was a lesson learned. "I think what we all learned is just how awesome it is to give, it is so much better to give than it is to receive and I know that the citizens of Biloxi, if I was in the same situation that they're in; they would come up here and they would help us out," says Diana Sierra. The students say the residents of Biloxi asked them to come back in five years to see how beautiful their city used to be, and will be again.


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