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HPU Students Spend Fall Break Volunteering In Mississippi

11.3.2009

HIGH POINT, N.C., Nov. 3, 2009 – High Point University students recently had the chance to volunteer their time and effort during their Fall Break by helping victims of Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi.

The group of students, along with members of Oak Ridge United Methodist Church, visited Moss Point, Miss. – about 100 miles east of New Orleans. This trip was HPU’s and Oak Ridge’s ninth trip together in the past five years, and the seventh trip to the Mississippi Coast for hurricane clean-up and rebuilding.

The HPU group consisted of five freshmen, six sophomores and two juniors, many of whom did not know one another prior to the trip. They were able to build new friendships with not only each other, but also with the additional team members.

“I knew nothing about installing sheet rock or plumbing prior to the trip, but the men were extremely patient with me,” says Elizabeth Boyd, student leader from HPU, who adds that the team members were all highly supportive of one another as they learned new skills. “This trip has touched my heart. It was an amazing and humbling experience. The people I met on the trip are wonderful individuals and I am so thankful and blessed to have experienced it.”

“We helped rebuild houses that still needed to be fixed that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina,” says sophomore Michael Vanni about the work the team completed. “Even though the storm happened four and a half years ago, there is still much work that has to be done.”

Vanni explains that the main focus of the trip was to repair a severely damaged house ? by installing plumbing in the bathroom, new walls and paint, and also kitchen cabinets and a new floor.

“We were very successful,” he says. “Throughout the week, everyone worked so hard. In the end, we all looked around and realized what an amazing job we had done.”

Still, he says the group had time to reflect on the situation in Moss Point.

“We had the opportunity to learn the stories of the people who live in the area who were strongly affected by this natural disaster,” Vanni says. “It was difficult trying to grasp how much cleanup work still exists. It’s hard to believe that four and a half years later we still have people living in trailers, or living with relatives because their houses are still unlivable.”

The group of students had an overall rewarding experience, though. Not only did they learn new skills, such as construction techniques, but they also learned how to comfort those who are suffering.

“You can see pictures on TV and on the news, but seeing the disaster in person makes you have a whole new respect for these people and what they’ve gone through,” Vanni says. “Sure, you can donate money through the mail, but helping first-hand does a lot more for these people. It shows how much people really do care.”

“This is a most popular trip among our members,” says Spencer Sullivan, team leader from Oak Ridge UMC. “It is a real blessing for us to have the opportunity to get to know, to teach construction skills to and mentor such outstanding young adults. They are all eager, quick learners and hard workers, and this group was special because of the participants’ generosity and thoughtfulness. They understand the value of their presence there. They are bringing hope and restoring lives as they rebuild homes.”

At High Point University, every student receives an extraordinary education in a fun environment with caring people. HPU, located in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, is a liberal arts institution with 3,700 undergraduate and graduate students from 50 countries and 44 states at campuses in High Point and Winston-Salem. It is ranked by US News and World Report No. 5 among comprehensive universities in the South and No. 1 in its category among up-and-coming schools. Forbes.com ranks HPU in the top 6 percent among “America’s Best Colleges.” HPU was included in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Great Colleges to Work For” 2009 listings. The university offers 68 undergraduate majors, 40 undergraduate minors and seven graduate degree programs. It is accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and is a member of the NCAA, Division I and the Big South Conference. Visit High Point University on the Web at www.highpoint.edu.

Chris DudleyVice President for Administration336-841-4530cdudley@highpoint.edu

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