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Tarleton State Spring Break Program Will See Neighbors Helping Neighbors

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In the summer of 2017, Hurricane Harvey set its sights on the Texas coast, bearing down on it with a force that destroyed entire communities. Wild winds, raging rain, and record-high flood waters resulting in many homes being demolished. It went on record as being the costliest storm in American history.

Fast forward six months, and many who were dealing with almost complete devastation then are still working on picking up the pieces. Businesses and schools had been shut down, and some didn’t bounce back. Farms were badly damaged, and some were destroyed, and some of their livestock had been lost to the flood waters. Many of them have faced crippling financial problems since then. And, although federal and state officials scrambled to pool and coordinate resources, roads and highways were cleared, utilities restored, and storm victims were temporarily housed, there’s still considerable work yet to be done before a semblance of normality can be reached in the area.

Tarleton State Spring Break Program Will See Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Photo: Facebook/Manon Mathews

Volunteers from other states as well as cities throughout Texas continue to provide their money and time to assist those that remain in need, including the rural communities of Port Aransas and Rockport. And, as winter slowly dissipates, news of added and unexpected assistance begins to filter into the region. The Community Service Programs Coordinator for Campus Life at Tarleton State University in Stephenville is working to organize a new outreach program which will be designed to provide students on spring break an alternative to the standard spring break excursions. Erin Warner has compiled a program that will see Tarleton State University students visit parts of the Texas coast which were heavily ravaged by Hurricane Harvey to assist with the rebuilding and cleanup efforts, marking the fifth year in a row that the Campus Life program has organized such an alternative.

Tarleton State Spring Break Program Will See Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Photo: Facebook/Tarleton State University

In an interview with Southwest FarmPress, Warner explained that through the program called Tarleton Serves, the students have “…traveled to Alabama, Colorado, South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana. While there, we conducted services that ranged from natural disaster relief to Habitat for Humanity projects.” This year, however, students will have the opportunity to stay in Texas, offering help to individuals and communities that need their support. Becca Hanson, President of Tarleton Serves, explained, “It didn’t seem right for us to travel to some other place and provide service there when our own home was in need of a lot of help. So it’ll be nice to be able to go down there (to the Texas coast) and help out our own.”

Tarleton State Spring Break Program Will See Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Photo: Facebook/Tarleton State University

University officials have noted that Tarleton State is home to a number of college students from the South Texas region, and many are from communities similar to those that they will be volunteering in. “During the trip, we expect to be conducting clean-up, home restoration, saving what is still salvageable, things of that nature,” explained Warner. “As for lodging, it varies on where we are going. One year, we stayed at a dormitory at a nearby college, the other we stayed in cabins at a summer campground.” Close to three dozen students have already registered to participate in the program, and Warner anticipates the cap will be 50. The cost per student is estimated at $550 and they’ll each be required to cover $100 worth of those expenses. Additional student fundraisers will be held to assist in raising the funds to equal the balance. Programs such as this work to reinforce the concept of neighbors helping neighbors, building community confidence, optimism, and hope.