Ozarks students aid with hurricane relief

Release Date: 1/4/2006

Students raise money and supplies for displaced victims of Katrina.

CLARKSVILLE, ARK. --The Ozarks community took part in helping victims of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe through support of local relief efforts and by supporting displaced college students from the affected regions.

One way the university helped was by waiving tuition for the fall 2005 semester for students who wished to enroll at Ozarks as a result of the emergency closings of Louisiana and Mississippi colleges and universities. At least one student, a sophomore from Xavier University in New Orleans, enrolled at Ozarks as a result of the program.

Numerous student organizations, as well as individual students, faculty and staff, also contributed to the relief efforts in various ways.

“As a campus community, we responded quickly and generously to the hardships of others with generous monetary donations, physical assistance, clothing and supplies of food and water,” said Ozarks President Dr. Rick Niece. “When I sent out an e-mail campus-wide asking for us to assist our neighbors in need, the responses were overwhelming. I was not surprised. The efforts of our students, faculty and staff are perfect examples of our mission of service to others in its living, breathing full glory.”

Students representing organizations such as Student Government Association, Students in Free Enterprise, Phi Beta Lambda, Rotaract, Amnesty International, Catholic Campus Ministries and Alpha & Omega organized food and money collection points around campus. They raised over $400 for the American Red Cross.

Other groups and individuals also took active and creative roles in contributing to the efforts. Numerous students, faculty and staff lent their time and personal computers to help displaced people find family members via the Internet. Communication students donated their time to prepare and read public service announcements from the Office of Emergency Services on local radio stations. Residence halls engaged in friendly competition to see which halls could raise the most money for relief efforts. The Ozarks Student Education Association (OSEA) organized a book drive to collect books for displaced families. Students with PBL teamed with the county’s rural fire departments and the national organization Firecorps to assist the Johnson County Office of Emergency Management in its relief efforts. PBL also sponsored a picnic for victims who were in the area.


“We had a meeting of organizations to organize some of the efforts, and we had a tremendous response,” said Karla Sosa, a senior business administration major from El Salvador who is involved in several campus organizations. “When you see the images on television and the suffering, you want to do something to help.”

Numerous faculty, staff and students helped local churches provide support for the hurricane victims. The Student Support Services Lab organized an effort with the Arkansas Presbytery to prepare health kits that were taken to victims housed at the Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Central Arkansas. Students with the Methodist Campus Ministries (MCM) took donated computers and cookies to the Shoal Creek Methodist Campground near Russellville, where about 80 displaced New Orleans residents were staying.

“We wanted to help them get Internet service so that they could check on family members and get news from back home,” said Kendall Johnson, a junior business administration major from Oologah, Okla., who helped with MCM’s efforts. “I think everyone just wants to do whatever they can do to help out, and that was one way we could help.”