Students use spring break to rebuild on Miss. coast

Published 2:38 pm Wednesday, March 12, 2008

ST. MARTIN (AP) — Some college students are spending spring break on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, lending a hand with hurricane recovery and not partying.

In St. Martin, the students helped build houses.

“I’d be back in Illinois, with the cold weather and all the snow,” volunteer Lori Saligram said. “This is beautiful for us.”

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Saligram and 16 other students from Illinois State University are part of Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge.

“I live in Chicago, and haven’t had the chance to come down and see the damage that’s been done,” volunteer Loren Leeberg told WLOX-TV.

Another volunteer, Alex Sherfy, said he had seen pictures and heard descriptions of the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, “but this is our first time seeing this. It takes it to a whole new level of real.”

“Last year, I was in Vegas,” Sherfy said. “We just wanted to do something that was right for once, instead of something we wanted to do. It’s been really great. I’ve been learning a lot.”

Sherfy is one of five student volunteers majoring in construction management.

“This is really gives me a chance to get out and get some technical experience,” he said.

Students from Texas A&M, Vermont Law School, Coe College in Iowa, and the University of Florida are also spending the week working on Habitat houses in St. Martin, Pascagoula and Gulfport.