Canadian Students Volunteer in Disaster Response

Hattiesburg, MS (February 20, 2013)—As eight students from the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada departed for a winter break Race and Poverty tour of south Central Mississippi, little did they know that the trip would turn into a humanitarian effort.

Arriving in Hattiesburg on the Monday following the tornado, the students immediately changed their plans to study the history of race and poverty in Mississippi to helping in the clean up and recovery of Hattiesburg and the Pine Belt.

As with many storm stories emanating from Hattiesburg over the last week this one has a link back to Hurricane Katrina seven years prior. Leaning on the sister school exchange program with the University of Southern Mississippi, students from the University of Guelph descended upon Hattiesburg to assist with cleanup following Katrina’s historic destruction. Many students volunteered with The Salvation Army in their recovery efforts.

Seven years later the partnership found new life as the students from “up north” traded in the text books for a hands on learning experience. Throughout the week, the eight Guelph students labored in Hattiesburg neighborhoods serving meals, distributing supplies and shooting hoops with children at The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club.

Student Della Rose described her experience as “a great experience. We have gotten to see things and meet people we would not have otherwise had the opportunity to do.”

Some of the hardest hit areas of Hattiesburg would best be described as fitting into the poverty demographic and also the most affluent. As the students volunteered it was a hand on lesson in how storms and destruction are indiscriminate. At the same time students have been able to see how the lingering effects of a storm have a more lasting impact on the poor and elderly.

As residents have begun their clean up, it has been apparent how the Mississippi spirit of community has impacted this recovery. Residents are working side by side with volunteers from across the state and as far away as Canada, learning the lessons of partnership and service.

The students will continue their service on Wednesday handing out food boxes and clean up kits in neighborhoods east of USM and east of Downtown Hattiesburg.

Financial donations are still needed to support disaster relief efforts. The Salvation Army asks those who want to help to visit or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY and designate Disaster Relief. Donors may text “GIVE” to 80888. Checks may be made out to The Salvation Army Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 100339, Atlanta, GA 30384-0339. Monetary donations will ensure The Salvation Army can meet the most immediate needs of those impacted by disaster.

About The Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination since 1865. Nearly 33 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year. The Salvation Army provides food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, and outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing, shelter and opportunities for underprivileged children. About 83 cents of every dollar raised is used to support those services in nearly 9,000 communities nationwide. For more information go to, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY, or send a check to your local Salvation Army earmarked for disaster relief.