Florida A&M students will be volunteering in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward while giving to children at this year’s Christmas for Katrina.Volunteers will spend time with residents in the area as well as hand out toys to the kids in the area. The Lower Ninth Ward was an area hit the hardest by Hurricane Katrina. It has been more than five years since the levees broke flooding New Orleans. Although some areas have been rebuilt and the city is trying to function normally, the scars are still there for many.
When the levees broke the area flooded with water rising up to 17 feet in some areas.
“I left three days before Hurricane Katrina happened. I used to stay in the Ninth Ward,” said Timothy Rising, Jr., a fourth-year political science student from New Orleans, whose family relocated to Jacksonville, before Hurricane Katrina.
In order to participate you must be a current student at the university and have a Rattler card. The Student National Alumni Association, Office of Student Activities, SGA and the National Pan-Hellenic Council pay the trip’s expenses. Students must purchase five toys that will be given to children in New Orleans. You will also have to attend travel meetings and sign a contract. The trip consists of 60-75 students.
“The SGA has been participating in Christmas for Katrina for four years,” said Jennifer Smith, SGA secretary of community affairs. “No one asked us to participate. Students from New Orleans took it upon themselves to make a difference.”
“It’s an eerie feeling going back now because the Walmart I used to go to isn’t there anymore,” said Rising. “You can see the water level marks on the buildings. I can’t go back and live there anymore, but I visit there (New Orleans) all the time.
Although the reality of the city’s condition is still hard on natives, students continue to go and help every year.
“We spent most of our time at the Boys and Girls Club, we cleaned up their facility and just spent time with the kids there. It was an awesome experience putting smiles on the faces of little kids,” said Shanese Stewart, a fourth-year economics student from Miami, who attended the trip last year. “The day before we left we spent the whole day in the Lower Ninth Ward where the levees actually broke. We handed out the toys we purchased to the kids.”