Helping hands should spur ideas

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Natchez got on the good list years ago, and we’ve been reaping the benefits ever since.

Since 1998 at least one group of students from a northern college has spent its spring break in Natchez volunteering.

The first group — from Boston College — responded to a request for help from Holy Family Catholic School. BC students now come every year.

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In recent years students from Boston University and James Madison University have joined them.

The students work at local non-profit agencies including the Natchez Children’s Home and the Sunshine Shelter. They do physical labor, play with children and pick up odd jobs.

All three universities tag their trips as “spring break alternatives,” encouraging students to trade in the beach for a meaningful experience.

Natchez residents who have reaped the benefits will tell you that the student contribution has been tremendous. We are thankful to each and every student who comes our way.

But the out-of-towners should inspire us as well.

It doesn’t have to be spring break for locals to organize into small groups and make a difference just like these students. Perhaps the local civic clubs could partner with Alcorn State University and Copiah-Lincoln Community College to get such an “alternative” program rolling.

We’ll accept the friendly help when it comes each year, but we certainly don’t have to wait for spring to get to work.