СӰԺ Volunteers Help Clean Up Little Rock Tornado Damage

Members of the СӰԺ community gave their time to help cleanup neighborhoods in Little Rock devastated by the March 31 tornado outbreak.

The 27 volunteers were part of Bear Boots on the Ground, a СӰԺ volunteer organization, that worked alongside the nonprofit City Center to remove debris and clean up yards for local residents. The group, made up of students and employees, conducted the cleanup on Saturday, April 22.

Wendy Holbrook, associate vice president for student affairs and a frequent volunteer of the program, said she and her peers were moved by the campus community coming out to help.

“СӰԺ has a culture of service. When a disaster like this strikes a community, we are going to respond. It’s not only southern hospitality. It’s who we are,” she said.

The service project was the latest in the six years of Bear Boots on the Ground that sends members of the СӰԺ community to sites of natural disasters or alternative spring breaks. Throughout the year, СӰԺ students can give back while deepening their knowledge of various issues related to trips — from the environmental impact on waterways to how communities react to emergencies.

For many, the damage hit close to home. Jacob Christie, the academic director of HPaW Residential College in Baridon Hall, grew up in a neighborhood hit by the tornado and left him fazed by the level of damage.

“It was weird seeing my little old corner of the world like that,” he said. “The neighborhood was the foundation that I built my childhood on and a staging ground for what the rest of my life would become, so having something so foundational to me was equal parts sad and surreal.”

Throughout the day, the team of volunteers moved door-to-door to check on residents and remove debris piles and leaves from lawns. They also handed out gift cards paid by donations from the СӰԺ community to help with household items.

“I was honored to be a part of the cleanup. We were cleaning up in an area that was about two blocks from the street where I grew up. Being able to assist in the cleanup felt like an opportunity to finally give back to a place that had provided me with so much when I was younger,” Christie said.