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March 12, 2014

College students give up spring break recreation to serve Moore

NORMAN — While many college and university students will travel to beach resorts and popular tourist areas for spring break this month, eight University of North Texas students are spending their spring break serving the city of Moore, which was severely damaged by last May’s tornado.

The “Oklahoma Tornado Relief” trip is one of several trips being offered to UNT students as part of UNT’s Alternative Spring Break, a program created by the Center for Leadership and Service.

Each trip raises students’ awareness of social issues and injustices by providing them with volunteer opportunities.

Students will work across the county in locations such as New Orleans to rebuild homes destroyed by tornadoes and Hurricane Katrina or San Antonio and Memphis to create care packages for organizations serving the homeless.

The UNT students, who began work Monday, will serve the area through Friday and be directed by staff members from the organization SERVE Moore. The group’s advisor Sidney Smith, who works as a UNT hall director for Housing and Residence Life, said the group will find out as they go the varying assignments. Whatever came the group’s way, she thought the students were prepared.

“You know you’re starting with a good group of students when they volunteer to do service projects on their break,” Smith said.

To kick off the week, UNT students built 24 planting beds for an Old Town Moore pumpkin patch to be used by Moore students and their families.

“We were surprised with our first assignment — some of us thought we’d be building houses, others thought we’d be painting — but the hard labor gives you discipline,” said Mohammad Khan, UNT senior and biology, Spanish and film major. “And we know we are making a difference, so we’re happy to do it for Moore, to help the kids and keep the community going and growing.”

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