Local group looks to raise money for volunteer efforts

Thursday, June 21, 2012
A local volunteer group is looking to raise funds for the upcoming trip to New Orleans to help with the continuing effot of Hurricane Katrina. The group has continued to volunteer in the area for the past six years. Volunteers included are (back, left) Daniel Kielbasa, Marc Holloway, Jeff Yanko, Abby Tonsing, Kait Hannen, Meg Darce, Laurie Marshall, Brianne Hannen. Indy New and Concetta Van Winkle. The group has worked with both Habitat for Humanity and St. Bernard.

For the past six years a group of friends, DePauw alumni and Putnam County residents, Marc Holloway, Abby Tonsing, Melissa Britton and Indy New got together and decided to go to New Orleans to help with the Hurricane Katrina relief.

"Each year we go back we see more new things and businesses moving in," said Holloway. "There are less and less devastating things."

Over the years the group has also made friends with a people from all over the United States including a few people from Long Island and Boston.

Around the same time each year they have made it their mission to meet up in New Orleans, no matter what their location.

"While on a Habitat for Humanity work site we met a group from Boston, and New York," explained New. "We have met there every year since and worked during our 'vacations.'"

The group of friends, which started these trips in their college years at DePauw hopes to continue their volunteer efforts for as long as they are needed.

"It's become a traditional trip," said Holloway. "This year we will be working with the St. Bernard project as opposed the Habitat for Humanity, which we've done for the past couple years."

The St. Bernard project is more involved in the restoring process of damaged homes, rather than the building process.

For the past few years, they have worked with Habitat for Humanity building homes for those that were destroyed in the Hurricane. They looked into Habitat for Humanity, but were ready to try something new for this year.

"It's just a really great group. Prior to this I don't think I've ever done much volunteer work," Holloway said. "I've never been so physically miserable and I've never had so much fun doing it. I really just didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did."

The group which will be going just south of the New Orleans perish for one week during July 29-Aug. 4, will be staying in volunteer base camps. Like most, they are having trouble finding the funds in this tough economy.

"None of us can really afford to do this, so we started having yard sales to help pay for gas, camp, food, supplies, water etc," explained New. "This year is no exception."

Each year they fund their own trip, which consists of gas money, housing, food and various other expenses. The camp is $175 per person for the week, but getting there with the current gas prices they are estimating they will need about $300 per person for food and so on.

The Blue Door will be hosting an employee yard sale in its parking lot on this Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.--2 p.m. Ten percent of sales will go toward helping local volunteers fund their trip to New Orleans to work on restoring houses damaged during Hurricane Katrina.

"The Blue Door has been amazing in allowing a sale to happen in their parking lot this weekend," said New.

Along with the Blue Door, Chief's will also be hosting a sale on its sidewalk on Saturday, June 30.

For more information or to donate to their cause email mholloway@depauw.edu.

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