Monday, September 19, 2011

UIS students spend the weekend helping with Missouri tornado cleanup

A group of 18 students from the University of Illinois Springfield spent their weekend helping with tornado cleanup and recovery in Joplin, Missouri. The group left campus on Fri., Sept. 9 and returned on Sept. 11.

Junior Management Information Systems major Caitlin Crane came up with the idea for the trip after witnessing the devastation on television. She began recruiting students to go on the trip and was amazed by the outcome.

“I was so excited and inspired that we had 18 people come with us,” said Crane. “We almost couldn’t all fit in the vans because we had so much luggage, but (the student volunteers) gave up their weekend and they spent it getting nasty and dirty.”

While in Joplin, the students worked to unload and sort 3 semi-trailers full of clothes, blankets, toiletries and kitchen items donated to the victims of the tornado. Another group helped clean debris out of a farmer’s field.

“The farmer, who owned the field, made his living off the field and would actually sell some of the stuff the field produced and canned the vegetables and fruits it produced,” said Crane.

Sophomore Psychology, Political Science and Legal Studies major Josh Eastby was struck by the number of storm victims working beside him in the recovery effort.

“It did really go to show that even after they lost their entire home, their possessions, sometimes even loved ones that they can keep on functioning and in many cases give back, even when they don’t have anything,” said Eastby.

Eastby realizes his service is only part of the recovery effort, but he’s glad to have played a small, yet cumulative role.

“Everyone can do something. None of us there fixed the tornado, but we all did something that now other people won’t have to do,” he said.

The trip to Joplin coincided with the AmeriCorps 9/11 Day of Service, a forward-looking national effort to honor the 9/11 victims, survivors and others who rose in service in response to the attacks.

View photos from the trip

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