February 06, 2009

Students seek funds for trip to help in New Orleans

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- If you’ve always wanted a daughter but just didn’t want to put that much time into raising her, the College of Education and Human Services at Southern Illinois University Carbondale has a deal for you.

For a mere $175, you can “adopt” for a week one of 14 young women who will be spending spring break, March 7-14, in New Orleans helping children and teachers still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Your sponsorship will pay for a week’s room and board; in return, your adoptee will keep you posted on her doings with e-mails and blog postings.

Don’t want a daughter for a whole seven days? Kick in $25, and she’s yours for one. And for those who don’t want the hassle of young adult offspring, $385 will allow you to adopt their seven-passenger van, while $240 will make you the adoptive parent of some very nice gasoline. (Please note: Neither the van nor the gas will write to you, though you might get a few digital pictures taken by the human adoptees.)

“We have about a third of the funds in hand now, but we still need about $4,000,” said Christina C. McIntyre, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction and faculty adviser to educ8kdz, the student organization behind the trip.

“We started to raise funds in the fall. The students have held bake sales, worked at a basketball game, asked family members for donations, and some have even gone to their dentists and doctors asking for support.”

If adoption’s not your thing, you can attend a semi-formal masquerade ball with light hors d’oeuvres from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Von Jakob Winery in Alto Pass. Tickets, available in Room 322 of Wham Education Building, cost $10 for adults and $5 for children or $25 for a family. Those attending may bring their own masks if they wish. Organizers will have adults’ masks available; children will have the chance to make their own.

“This will be the only fund-raising event we will have this spring,” McIntyre noted.

This year’s trip builds on the group’s first visit to the hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward, made during last year’s break. During that trip, they painted, did general clean-up, helped put together a preschool classroom, assisted with cataloging library books and suggested some teaching strategies for childcare providers, many of whom lack even basic training.

Meagan M. Hutchings, a senior in early childhood education from Paris, Ill., went last year and was shocked to discover that a basic text on developing appropriate practices for teaching young children was not available in the classrooms she visited.

“It’s our bible -- we get it in our first class,” she said. As a new edition has just been published, Hutchings has made it her mission to round up some older versions and take them with her as gifts this time around.

At the request of some of the teachers in the child care centers, the group also will conduct training workshops, based on needs identified in the early part of the trip.

“Because their needs are so basic, I think we can put something together fairly quickly,” said Deborah A. Bruns, an assistant professor in educational psychology and special education, who, with McIntyre, will accompany the students.

But first, they have to get there, and to do that, they need $4,067. If adoptions or masquerades just aren’t your thing, they’ll take small checks and pocket change, too. To find out more, call McIntyre at 618/453-4245 or e-mail her at cherimc@siu.edu.

As Hutchings notes, “We’ll take anything, right up until the day we leave.”