Wartburg students help with derecho cleanup
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Throughout September and October, teams of student volunteers traveled to the Cedar Rapids area multiple times to help with cleanup efforts. The students also included those who live in The Residence, Wartburg’s service-learning residence hall where students are required to complete a community service project with a community partner. Some of those partnerships were severed last-minute because of the pandemic.
“These trips made it possible for two of our signature service initiatives to continue providing opportunities for students,” said Kristin Teig Torres, director of community engagement at the college. “I am so proud of Wartburg students and their adaptability during these uncertain times.”
Bergan Blommers, the student marketing coordinator for Service Trips, said one of the first groups to visit Cedar Rapids helped on an acreage that had a lot of downed trees and debris.
“The man who owned the land with his wife had just gotten home from heart surgery the day before the storm hit. He wasn’t able to do much lifting so we helped the couple and other volunteers with cleaning the grounds. We raked, pulled debris out of the tree lines, then hauled wood and debris to the side of the road,” said Blommers.
Jean Erickson, of Cedar Rapids, connected with the Wartburg Service Trips team through a Facebook group that pairs volunteers with those impacted by the derecho.
“This group came to Cedar Rapids and helped clean our six acres of woods destroyed by the derecho. They did a fantastic job and are a wonderful group to represent your college. We were lucky to get this group and appreciated all their help. They were great workers!” she said in a Facebook message.
Rachelle Karstens, a 1992 Wartburg graduate and current president of Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, joined her son, Grant Johnson, a senior at Wartburg, as a chaperone for one of the derecho cleanup opportunities.
“I think it’s wonderful that Wartburg provides these opportunities. There’s so much students can learn outside the classroom, and with the world we’re living in right now, there’s a lot of fear, uncertainty, sadness and loss. I’ve always found that volunteer service helps the giver far more than the recipient,” Karstens said.
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