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JMU Thanksgiving Katrina Relief Trip

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JMU workers clear a Katrina-Ravaged house in Biloxi.
JMU workers clear a Katrina-ravaged house in Biloxi.

HARRISONBURG, Va. The spirit of Thanksgiving hit home for 54 James Madison University students, faculty and staff who spent the 2005 Thanksgiving holiday on the road, helping with hurricane-relief efforts in Biloxi, Miss., Nov. 20-26.

The volunteers, who paid $325 each to participate, made a 16-hour bus trip to the hard-hit Gulf Coast city Sunday, Nov. 20, leaving JMU's Godwin Hall at 5 a.m. The team worked through the week in Biloxi, housed at a local church school, and returned to Harrisonburg Saturday, Nov. 26.

Their work primarily consisted of debris removal, but also involved serving meals and other tasks. The group spent part of Thanksgiving Day assisting with meals in Bayou La Batrie, Ala., about 60 miles east of Biloxi, and also in Biloxi.

"In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there was an outpouring of interest across campus in getting physically involved in the relief effort," said Lorelei Esbenshade, associate director of JMU's Office of Community Service-Learning . "Students, faculty and staff wanted to do something.

"Through the National Relief Network, Community Service-Learning was able to connect the resources of JMU with a community in need."

The JMU team of employees and students will be part of a larger NRN effort of more than 300 people from groups around the country.


Photographs by Phil DeJong, a December 2005 graduate of the JMU's Katrina Relief team working in Biloxi may be viewed here .

The JMU Katrina Relief team maintained a daily wiki message board/journal. Read entries at .