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Jewish students volunteer for hurricane relief

Hillel will send nine Binghamton students and a staff member to Gulfport, Miss., in January to aid in hurricane relief efforts. The group will join students from five other colleges from Jan. 8-15 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, which has been working in smaller towns outside Gulfport on debris removal, basic rebuilding and home cleanup.

“I am gratified that Hillel at Binghamton was chosen to join in this important project,” Director Gary Coleman said. “Making the world a better place is an important ideal of ours and our students are excited about being able to be help in the relief effort.”

Participants will pay $400 for the trip; grants from the campus and national Hillel organizations will subsidize transportation costs. Many students choose to spend a portion of vacation on service learning trips such as this one. Since Hurricane Katrina struck in late August, more than 13,000 service participants have contributed to the hurricane recovery effort in the Gulf Coast and other states, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The Hillel effort alone will bring 150 volunteers to Gulfport. The Weinberg Tzedek Hillel program, an international public-service and social-justice project, has organized the initiative with the help of Nechama: Jewish Response to Disaster and the United Jewish Communities. Additional students are expected to volunteer during spring break.

Binghamton students Sarah Finger, Jes Koss, Kerin Bergin, Rachel Jacobs, Hadassah Head, Jackie Fishman, Danielle Ferriolli, Lewis Levenberg and one additional person will go to Mississippi with Hillel staff member Jackie Farber. They expect to sleep on the church floor and cook their own meals in the church’s kitchen.

“Our students were among the first to volunteer for hurricane relief immediately after the storm, and I am so proud that they will be continuing with this essential project during their winter vacations,” said Avraham Infeld, national Hillel president. “They truly embody the Jewish imperative of tikkun olam, repairing the world.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08