While most area public school students are looking forward to a week of leisure during next week's winter break, a couple of dozen central New York students and staff members will be picking up hammers and sorting through trash. Sixteen Morrisville-Eaton high school students and eight faculty and family members will be traveling to Louisiana to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
While the hurricane devastated the Louisiana over three years ago, there are still people without homes and with homes that are being razed because they cannot afford to fix them up. After so long, it is easy to assume that there is little left to do, but members of an organization called Southern Comfort know first hand that much is still to be done. Southern Comfort is based in Central New York and helps the Gulf Coast area by sending donations and labor to help with the rebuilding of the area.
They have sponsored 17 week long trips to the area with a total of 760 people who have worked on 160 jobs, from mucking out homes to rebuilding school and churches. They have delivered trailer loads for school supplies, musical instruments and books and athletic equipment to schools. A more recent addition is a focus on planting trees to help restore the ecological barrier to the wind and water during storms.
The Morrisville students responded to a call by the district superintendent, Michael Drahos, for volunteers to travel the distance and offer help first hand. Drahos will be making his third visit to the area. He responded to a call by the late Will Hanna, a fellow Lions Club member who was involved with the Southern Comfort organization. Having seen what can happen in one short week, Drahos felt there were students his district who would volunteer for this kind of service event. He was overwhelmed by the response. He expected half dozen students to step up to the plate, but instead sixteen students signed up.