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URI students plan for spring break in New Orleans, team up with other schools

By Lee Sullivan
On March 16, 2011

While most students will be going away to destinations such as Florida or Cancun over spring break, students of the University of Rhode Island's Intervarsity Christian Fellowship chapter plan to spend their week off rebuilding houses in New Orleans. These students will be mainly working in the 9th Ward of New Orleans, specifically Metairie and Arabi.

Approximately 25 students are participating in Katrina Relief Urban Plunge (KRUP). They plan to take a bus headed to New Orleans departing this Friday and expect to arrive Saturday night.  The team of students will be staying in Gentilly, New Orleans in the Gentilly Baptist Church. The church has been converted into a shelter for groups like Intervarsity. Students plan to stay in a the church's large auditorium, which includes a kitchen. Students will be joined by Intervarsity students from schools including Yale, Wesleyan and Southern Connecticut State University.

Students from URI will be working with Habitat for Humanity and the Arkansas Baptist Builders in New Orleans. The students will be painting houses, demolishing wrecked houses to be rebuilt, cleaning up local parks and building new homes for families who were misplaced because of the hurricane.

Rhode Island College senior Adam Croft, who leads the program, said that students mostly fund the trip, each paying $500. That money covers transportation, housing and food. Additionally, Kingston Pizza and Rhode Island local company Happy Shirts donated money to go toward the trip's expenses. Local Rhode Island churches also donated money to Intervarsity.

Croft said that the trip is designed to explore connections between spirituality and coming together as a Christian community while helping to restore the destroyed houses from Hurricane Katrina.

"As Christians, we believe that our faith does not allow for us to be complacent," Croft said. "We believe we are called to action to serve and come face-to-face with the brokenness of the world."

Croft said at the end of each day, the team will have a discussion time to talk about how the day went, what they did and how it affected each of them. This time will also allow students to converse about what they think the Christian faith has to say about each project and also about challenges they might face.

"The immersion and experience of what we are doing in New Orleans often cause us to question what we know and maybe lead us to make changes in our own lives," Croft said. "After seeing some of the devastating scenes there, it has made me want to live a simpler life, and really understand how lucky I am for everything I have."

Croft said that not everyone who will be going to New Orleans is or has to be Christian. He said that there are a variety of different faiths that are there already working as a team to help rebuild the broken city.

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