Wilson students to help rebuild Miss. town damaged by Katrina

November 30, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. ? Wilson College sophomore Rebecca Heston will be spending her first Christmas away from home, not because of school, but because she and several other current and former students have decided they will return to a small Mississippi town to help it rebuild from Hurricane Katrina.

Heston and the other women will load into two cars and a pickup truck Tuesday and head to D'Iberville, Miss., where some of them spent their Alternative Spring Break, a sponsored college activity. This time, the women are going on their own.

Heston will be joined by fellow students and former students Sarah Griffin, Leanna Guillet, Kathleen Helman and Hannah Serra, all of Chambersburg; Sarah Shetter of Waynesboro, Pa.; Heather Wacome of Highland Springs, Va.; and Aliyah Johnson of Trinidad.

Once in Mississippi, they will stay at the D'Iberville Foundation Camp, going out each day to perform basic demolition, landscaping, painting, hanging drywall and "spraying for mold wearing hazmat suits," Heston said. They will return to Chambersburg Dec. 29.


"We're really good at drywall," Heston said. That is what the 21-year-old Fayetteville, Pa., woman did during her spring break.

D'Iberville, which had a population of 7,608 in the 2000 census, is one of the scores of communities large and small still recovering more than 15 months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005.

"We know there has been some progress. We keep in touch with the leaders of the volunteer camp," Heston said.

Much work remains in rehabilitating damaged homes and in new construction to replace the housing destroyed by the storm, she said.

"Originally, at spring break, we went out of a sense of curiosity and a desire to do something new," Heston said.

For Heston, the people and the place have become special.

"It's the epicenter of Southern hospitality," Heston said. "They just love you to death. We wanted to give back to them for Christmas this year."

The group is paying its own way with the help of donations, including a large contribution from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, Heston said. They still are accepting donations, including Lowe's and Home Depot gift cards, building supplies, nonperishable food and monetary donations, which can be made payable to the D'Iberville Volunteer Foundation.

For more information about making a donation, call 717-749-3587 or send an e-mail to Information on D'Iberville can be found at

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