Thursday, March 23, 2006
Trading beer bongs for sledgehammers
OK, so you probably won't see these spring-breakers on MTV anytime soon, but thousands of young college students have passed up beer bongs in Daytona for the opportunity to volunteer in Mississippi and New Orleans, gutting homes and helping residents try to clean up.

I spent today with a number of volunteers, and I gotta say, while some people fret about the future of our country, if these young people are any indication, the kids are alright. There is nothing glamorous or fun about the work they are doing. Ripping out dry wall in mold-infested homes is not exactly easy or pleasurable, and yet, these students have paid their own way here for the privilege.

Nearly every person said the same thing: "I had no idea it was this bad" and "I can't believe more isn't being done."

I wish everyone had an opportunity to come down to the Gulf Coast. Nearly seven months since Katrina, and still no clear rebuilding plan is in place.

It's interesting to see it through the eyes of these young volunteers. I think the danger of coming here as often as I have is that it starts to seem normal. The destroyed homes, the lack of progress. For the volunteers it is a shock, and it still should shock us all.
Posted By Anderson Cooper: 6:39 PM ET
What a great story. It is nice to see "kids" in this light instead of other stories we hear about.
I am sure the beer bongs make an appearance after all the hard work. I was a kid once to...
Posted By Anonymous Rachel-Albuquerque, NM : 6:56 PM ET
It does still shock. Can CNN broadcast and post the organizations that people can volunteer their time to?

We should ALL roll up our sleeves and pitch in. Good for those kids and whoever organized their efforts! We need more of this spirit, since help and rehab for the Gulf Coast isn't going to come from our government.
Posted By Anonymous Frances, Chicago IL : 6:57 PM ET
AC360, Hey, maybe you did read my e-mail. Glad to see you have a blog on this topic. My niece spent 13 hours on a bus just to get there, and from what I hear, is working very hard to try and help these people out. I just can't imagine trying to live in a tent, work, and then try to clean up and rebuild your life. Let's just hope the next hurricane season will spare this region from more destruction.
Love the show.
Posted By Anonymous Mary H. St. Louis, Mo : 6:58 PM ET

Thanks for putting out a positive word. I had the privilege of traveling with other students from the University of Virginia to Pass Christian, Mississippi three weeks ago. The devastation and destruction was surreal, and our week of work hardly made a dent Yet time and time again we would hear from residents and business owners that their property had been cleared of debris entirely by college students on Spring Break. UVA might not have made a dent, but the college students of America are slowly helping to repair the country.

If you get the chance, visit the Americorp workers at �Tent City� in Pass Christian.

Posted By Anonymous Andrew Tuttle Charlottesville, VA : 6:58 PM ET
Who says that the young people
are all out partying
there are some good and caring young adults out there
Good for them for helping and for you
Anderson Cooper for broadcasting from
New Orleans and keeping them honest

and I also enjoyed the music by
washboard Chaz
Posted By Anonymous sue ann from carl : 7:04 PM ET
You know Anderson, I wanna come to New Orleans as well, but the problem is with my age, I am 16, and second my parents would never let me visit New Orleans at this age...I get jealous when I hear about other youngsters volunteering...
Posted By Anonymous Tropa, New York, NY : 7:06 PM ET
My son is one of those spring breakers...thank you for highlighting the good, unselfish work these kids are doing!!!!
Posted By Anonymous Marta, Ohio : 7:10 PM ET
i think that it's a good thing someone is keeping an "eye" on what's going on down on the gulf coast as it seems to me,all the big talking politico's have turned tail and run from the responsabilities that are all important at this time of crisees!! keep up the good work so that the people can rebuild and move on with thier lives.
Posted By Anonymous mark hebert ,british columbia,canada : 7:12 PM ET
Thanks for such a positive story! I think alot of today's youth seem to get a bad reputation from the few that make it into the public eye. I praise the effort of each and every one down there. It is the human spirit at it's best!
Posted By Anonymous Victoria Monaca, PA : 7:12 PM ET
This might be considered a cynical comment , but here goes...

Why use the money, time and effort to build places like the 9'th ward of New Orleans up again, when there are all sorts of chances that 5 major hurricanes will strike at the gulfcoast this upcomming season.

Anyone thought about building the levys instead ??
Posted By Anonymous Mikael, Copenhagen , Denmark : 7:13 PM ET
It's really great to see that there are so many young people in this country that really care and who put the well-being of others ahead of their own and who trade the fun they could have going on their 'traditional' spring-break with hard labor.

If the government would bring the same enthusiasm and interest to the table as these young volunteers do, maybe the Gulf Coast region would fare much better by now.

Anderson, continue to 'Keep them honest'.
I think it would be a good idea to re-cap what kind of help still is needed in the region and exactly where so that people that stil want to volunteer do know where they can turn to. Volunteer works is needed for still a long time to come!
Posted By Anonymous Elke, Naples/FL : 7:14 PM ET
Our young people are the finest--whether serving their country in Iraq or serving their community in New Orleans.

My daughter is quoted in your report tonight--she's in Katrina country. My niece is serving in Iraq. Both volunteered. Both are proud American young women who clearly see their place in the world.

And I am a proud mother and aunt.
Posted By Anonymous Christina Feller, Portland, Maine : 7:16 PM ET
I think it's wonderful how our young people want to roll up their sleeves and pitch in to do the dirty work, and sleep in tents etc. We see so many reports about how ornery kids are these days. Well this proves not all kids are getting into trouble. To give up their spring breaks for folks in need, is great.
I noticed that every time you go down to the Gulf, you look appalled that the landscape hasn't changed much. I hope you continue to go down there often to let us see what is really being or not being done. Hurricane season is approaching fast. Its scarey to even think about it, after the report that Rob gave last night.
Posted By Anonymous Jean, St. Charles, Mo. : 7:16 PM ET
This is a fine demonstration of American's working together for the common good. I hope the Bush administration takes this lead and sets up some kind of summer program for the many students willing to work like this in the summer. Rebuilding America with American's with loyal young Americans is truly rebuilding. This seems to be the only thing that gets the job done, Well done to all the young men and women involved.
Posted By Anonymous Wayne Alan Law, Bible Hill, Nova Scotia : 7:16 PM ET
I have noticed great things in the generation behind me, the 20-30 year olds. It is beyond great that they would give up time and money, and I am happy to hear good news for a change.
Just like I enjoyed the fact that you anchored from a bar last night, and showed the locals having fun around the watering hole. I now believe New Orleans will be back. Thanks Anderson.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah Shaw, Shelby NC : 7:20 PM ET
Not too miss the point of this post, but MTV did in fact recently highlight a group of kids helping out in hurricane-ravaged Mississippi.

They might not play music much anymore, but I will at least congratulate their effort to show alternative spring breaker-ers in action.
Posted By Anonymous Erik, Harrisonburg, VA : 7:21 PM ET
A former high school student of mine just returned from spending her spring break in Louisiana helping clean out houses. I am very proud of her and the many others who are also helping out!
Posted By Anonymous Stacey, Bismarck, ND : 7:21 PM ET
Amen, Anderson. Pascagoula, on the east end of the MS coast is my hometown, and my family and friends are still there. The normalcy you speak of is even affecting them, some days. And unfortunately, depression and helplessness are gaining normalcy down there, thanks mainly to the screw job everyone got from the insurance industry. Thanks for your continued focus, and thanks to those kids (and adult) volunteers who have done so much for our state. Reading about them makes me feel more American and patriotic than a phony corporate war ever could.
Posted By Anonymous Ben White, Jackson, MS : 7:26 PM ET
My home was completely devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and I am so thankful for other young people coming down to help. Being at college, it's hard to know what is going on back at home, but it is inspiring to have other people my age working down there, and even having friends from other schools call to send their condolences once they get to my hometown. You never really know what it's like till you stay there for a few days and see it.

Thanks again to each and every volunteer. If FEMA can't make it happen, you will.
Posted By Anonymous Diane, Pass Christian, MS : 7:28 PM ET
I'm so glad that you're showing that teens really can be good people. Every day I wish that I had the money or the resources to travel to the Gulf Coast. As you know, teens are not the richest people on the planet, but I really would love to help. It would be amazing if you and CNN could put together a group of volunteers to travel to the Coast to help in the demolition and reconstruction process. The National Honor Society tried to put together a trip to New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity, but the school administration denied our request. So instead we raised $32,000 to build three Habitat "homes in a box", which we're putting together on March 31st. I'm hoping that for graduation I receive enough money to travel with Habitat or Mennonite Disaster Service this summer. Thank you for your continuing coverage of Katrina, I always look forward to reports.
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly Miller, Lancaster, PA : 7:29 PM ET

That is an awesome story. As a colllege student, who watches your show religiously, I am so thrilled to see you doing stories on young people. Sometimes young people feel that they are segerated from the rest of the world and the news. I am thrilled to see that your doing this story. Thanks so much for showing the world that college students do have hearts and do like to help. Thanks for keeping them honest.

Posted By Anonymous Jason Burnette, Tulsa, Oklahoma : 7:34 PM ET
As a St. Bernard Parish resident, I can say that, when the grief and struggle of rebuilding start to really weigh on your heart and soul, these volunteers are a godsend as are the other relief organizations that have been here. Their energy, belief, and spirit inspire. It also reminds us that this is NOT our normal life. It is absolutely true that you become sort of desensitized; that you begin to believe this everyday struggle to rebuild is somehow "normal." The volunteers can never know how appreciated they are because there are no words that can adequately convey the gratitude that the residents feel. So, most simply put, let me say "Thank You!" to the volunteers. We are truly humbled by their humanity, their compassion, and their sacrifice.
Posted By Anonymous Christina, formerly of Chalmette, La : 7:34 PM ET
Young people these days too often are looked at negatively. Maybe this will show how much many do really care about others and not about getting plastered for a week.
Posted By Anonymous Jodi, Calgary, : 7:36 PM ET
I am a Brown University student and I am planning on going down to help rebuild New Orleans next week for spring break. We are doing our trip through Habitat for Humanity. The program is wonderful and quite accomidating, I would reccomend this program for anyone interested in helping out.

Thanks again for recognizing our efforts.
Posted By Anonymous sarah, providence, ri : 7:38 PM ET
Rachel from Albuqueque -- actually, probably not too many beer bongs after the work. Anderson was following around kids from the organization I work for: Campus Crusade for Christ.
Posted By Anonymous Tony, Chicago : 7:40 PM ET
Hey Cooper. Yes, it's sad the lack of progress. But most of us Americans do NOT WANT to see NOLA rebuilt. Duhhh--it's just asking for another disaster. What is being done to re-settle them elsewhere, like the 100,000 in Houston, TX. I know that used to be their "homes," and they are emotionally attached to the areas and neighborhoods that were destroyed in the flood, but, to re-build in the flooded areas is really stupid.
Posted By Anonymous Serena, Lubbock, TX : 7:42 PM ET
As a lifelong resident of New Orleans I can tell you that most of the blame resides with the people running the city for decades. The money was squadered, the plans for levee re-inforcement and evacuation were shelved and ignored, and the unwritten rule was 'hasta manana' or it won't happen to us! For a person to understand the government of New Orleans look no further than how a third world country runs itself: Via Courruption, Bribery, Laziness, Ineffectiveness, and Outright Crime. The Police force was known to be little more than a symbol. And the federal Government tried but failed to change things. Only a hurricane could flush the scoundrels out, and it looks like it jut may have. Its the only silver lining in n otherwise very very dark cloud.
Posted By Anonymous Serita Budreau, Houston, TX : 7:44 PM ET
A couple of weeks ago I read a story online that the youth of this country isn't interested in the news and what goes on in the world around them.

I'm glad that you're doing this story to prove to those people that kids today are far more interested in the future of this country then anyone gives them credit for!
Posted By Anonymous Sheryn R, Pohatcong, NJ : 7:46 PM ET
This is a fine demonstration of American's working together for the common good. I hope that someone takes this lead and sets up some kind of summer program. Rebuilding with young people is truly rebuilding. This seems to be the only thing that gets the job done, Well done to all the young men and women involved.
Posted By Anonymous Wayne Alan Law, Bible Hill, Nova Scotia : 7:51 PM ET
When you first see it -- well, it takes your breath away. Shock doesn't come close Anderson. A group I work with is sending another team down to Mississippi next week. It is our 12th trip. Young - old - rich - poor all come to one place to do one thing -- HELP. Many on our trip will be missing Daytona Beach; not because they feel forced into going to Mississippi, but because they want to go. It is refreshing in a ME world to see people give. (Give time, money, hope, love.) Daytona Beach will be waiting next Spring Break and I'm sure this year they won't miss a few good kids. Maybe there is hope for the future?
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl, Raleigh NC : 7:53 PM ET
Maybe we all need this type of shock in our lives. At times we become too comfortable in certain surroundings and we no longer see what is really going on. And seeing the reaction of others to "our world" jolts us back to the real world. Maybe some of those Washington politicians need to go down to the Gulf Region and help out for a weekend. Get their hands dirty and do some real work for a change. Not just a day trip by bus or helicopter passed a neighborhood.

Young people today do get a bad rap because some of the media focuses only on the negative that they do. I applaud these young people for putting other people's lives before their own.
Thanks for bringing them to our attention.
Posted By Anonymous Marcia Detroit, MI : 7:57 PM ET
If every person in this country spent a few days volunteering, the Gulf Coast would be cleaned up a heck of a lot cheaper, faster, and more efficiently.
Posted By Anonymous Karen, Wakefield, RI : 7:58 PM ET
I am an Americorps NCCC member living in a tent city in Waveland, Mississippi (about 50 miles east of New Orleans) and it is amazing to see all the college volunteers giving up their spring break to help out. My Americorps team and I will be here until the middle of May as team leaders and already we've worked with hundreds of volunteers. Since January this camp has participated in over 21,000 volunteer hours. What those who have volunteered need to know is just how much people appreciate the help you give. I hear it all the time because of the attention I draw from my uniform. To the people who haven't come down or witnessed the destruction: if you were to see the 100 miles band of destroyed land, you would think the hurricane hit yesterday. This area will not recover for at least 15 to 20 years and they need help.
Posted By Anonymous Nathan Boren, Waveland, Mississippi : 7:59 PM ET
My two college kids are in New Orleans this week, electing to use some of their spring break helping out. I get phone calls every day telling me the horrors and also the great things that are happening there. I'm thinking that they will extend their time there beyond a week because they just can't let it go....I'm thinking I should join them. To me, our government has failed miserably but we as Americans will never fail each other.
Posted By Anonymous Kate, Chicago IL : 8:00 PM ET
Are they provided respirators so that the stuff (mold, dust etc.)in the air does not cause long term damage?
Posted By Anonymous Mark Daniels, San Diego CA : 8:01 PM ET
There's a quote from a man who is troubled by the "young people of today" and so is fearful for the world's future. When you read it, you think it's from a contemporary; but it's the words of Aristotle!

There are many ways for us each to participate in the healing, but this is incredibly special...right up there with your coverage and dedication, Anderson. I know this sounds corny, but human contact, caring and understanding makes the ultimate difference and is our hope for the future. Nothing promotes understanding more than seeking to understand, rather than to be understood. And reaching out to do what one can to heal wounds, as these teams of young adults are doing goes a very long way toward healing the physical, mental, and emotional wounds. And the healers always benefit in ways they couldn�t have imagined, I�m sure they will tell you.

And gee...I haven't heard anyone shooting the messenger by criticizing the media coverage of all the negative aspects of the Katrina debacle and not the positive things that are going on there. And yet, a responsible journalist somehow chose to do that anyway, all the while keeping them honest, and never backing away from covering the heartbreaking scope of the death and destruction, and the tough issues related to the nightmare of the mishandling.

Hmmm...maybe seeing the reality of the tragedy inspired folks? Maybe we're all capable of forming responsible opinions and taking positive action even when "the media" has shown us that our leaders haven't? ~N~
Posted By Anonymous -Nioshii- NYC/ATL : 8:01 PM ET
Thank you for posting a story that goes against the stereotypes we see about teens everyday.

Ageism has become an epidemic lately and it's sad taht so many teens are shoved in the "drunken sex addict" category when in fact many of them do volunteer work, have part time jobs to support their families and try to make the world a better place.
Posted By Anonymous Dina, Ottawa, Ontario. : 8:11 PM ET
Hey Andy, this guys are history and them are helping and encouraging people no matter what... I'm from Latin America and I always see the United States of America as a great example of victory and compassion and I still believe it because of people like you and them...
God bless you Anderson Cooper God bless those cool volunteers
sincerely a friend from a little country of Central America who respects american people
Posted By Anonymous Claudia, Guatemala City : 8:21 PM ET
I am dismayed by the state of the region and by the lack of support the people have received from public officials at all levels.

Individuals helping others; young or old, that's the secret to building a better future. I applaud all the volunteers and especially these students for giving hope to local residents.

I myself are looking into a volunteer vacation instead of going on yet another trip...
Posted By Anonymous Julie, Montreal, Canada : 8:25 PM ET
Working volunteer vacations are becomming a trend with youth around the world. Thank you for giving this the atention it deserves. More kids would volunteer however if we made it easier for them. It would be great if you could provie the info on how they could help. Any idea on how many non americans were helping? Once again quality reporting! Thanks
Posted By Anonymous David Schreiber Thailand : 8:28 PM ET
I'm so glad to know that people my age are there making a difference. I wish that I had the finances to be there myself. It doesn't make me fear the future so much knowing that other young people also are working towards a more involved and peaceful future.
Posted By Anonymous Willa, Dandridge TN : 8:30 PM ET
I AM SO HAPPY YOU POSTED THIS! It's about time someone told the world that we're not all beer bong passing, joint smoking, wasting our parent's money college kids. Some of actually want to do things worth while. I get so angry when people assume spring break is all about spending the whole day at the beach. I feel the media spends too much time covering the typical party scene of spring break. People must think my generation is crazy! Anderson, your stories always stand up for the youth and younger generation. Thanks for not writing us off as mindless punks who waste our lives.
Posted By Anonymous Kristen, Gainesville, Florida : 8:31 PM ET
wow, i'm really impressed some of students are spending their "precious" spring break to help out people in N.O.!

i want to help them out too!
can i get any info?
Posted By Anonymous rach,rochester,NY : 8:34 PM ET
The young generation of today is usually potrayed negatively by the media so it is good to bring up such topics to show that they do care what goes on globally. These volunteers are setting an example for others and it is important that such acts are not overlooked.
Posted By Anonymous Nupur, Urbana IL : 8:36 PM ET
Anderson, thanks for the encouraging post. Hopefully it will prompt others to get involved and help out in anyway way they can. KUDOS to these college students for their efforts. I think it would be a great idea if colleges around the country offered students some kind of course credit in exchange for volunteering their time with help in the cleanup efforts in the Gulf.
That way if ever their career path takes them to a state, government or, do I dare say, FEMA job one day, they have witnessed this shocking disaster first hand and hopefully will take measures to make sure nothing like this EVER happens again!

Keep "KEEPING THEM HONEST" AC! You're the voice for so many!
Posted By Anonymous Suzanne, Kingston, New York : 8:37 PM ET
In these times where young people are overindulged by their parents so that their kids don't have to struggle like them (I don't get that), it is good to see selflessness and compassion. As a survivor of Katrina, and dedicated blogger, my heart is filled everytime I hear stories like this. Our gulf cities need help. New Orleans residents in particular feel like the rug has been pulled out from under us yet again when we learn of the "rebuilding plans" that will virtually abandon a huge number of hardworking residents who want desperately to return home. It is taking our neighbors to help, like these kids and you, Anderson. Thanks as always.
Posted By Anonymous Paige B., New Orleanian in Austin : 8:38 PM ET
As a parent of one of the kids working through Campus Crusade this week...I'm so glad to see something positive about our young adults on the me hope for our country's future...I'm such a proud mom ;)
Posted By Anonymous Marta, Botkins, Ohio : 8:39 PM ET
It's refreshing to hear that a substantial number of college students are helping to rebuild NO without any alterior motives. In high school, the echo of "it'll be good to add to your college applications and personal statement," has some kids assuming that community service grants benefits beyond the satisfaction of helping others in need.
Posted By Anonymous Becca, Chicago, IL : 8:41 PM ET
Hi Anderson,
Your blogs are always so popular that I doubt my comment will go through..But I'll try..I feel strongly about this issue. I think most Americans are SHOCKED about what happened and continues to happen in the Gulf Coast. I can't recall any disaster, at least in my State, that was left to such neglect. Volunteers are a blessing, they always have been, and always will be. But, obviously more is needed..Perhaps, if the Politicians could be capable of outrage on more than one issue at a time, then the Gulf Coast would get the much needed attention it deserves..Until then my thoughts and prayers continue for the Gulf. When all is said and done I still believe and have no doubts in the people who live there..They are Americans..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 8:41 PM ET
It's great to see the younger generation get involved and have a positive story. So much of the time all you hear about is the negative side of the younger generation. I take off my hat to them since they give up their spring break time. College kids always look forward to some time off after studying so hard during the year, so this is great.
Posted By Anonymous Wynona, San Diego, CA : 8:43 PM ET
Even though I'm of college age I gotta say this shocks me, I guess my peers aren't all as bad as I thought they were. This makes me consider going to help out myfelf, I'd been thinking about it but this seems like a good opportunity to help people and meet young people like myself who would rather make a difference than stay out all night getting drunk somewhere.
Posted By Anonymous Courtney, Chagrin Falls, OH : 8:47 PM ET
Their efforts are heart warming and I thank you for bringing their story to the attention of others. It is reasuring to be reminded that they are our future and that they deserve to be.

PS: I am sure that these hard working humanitarians must have induldged on Burbon Street after a hard day's work. They earned it.
Posted By Anonymous Craig Hamilton Ontario : 8:49 PM ET
Anderson, thanks for the encouraging post. Hopefully it will prompt others to get involved and help out in any way they can. KUDOS to these college students for their efforts! I think it would be a great idea if colleges around the country offered students some kind of course credit in exchange for volunteering their time with help in the cleanup efforts in the Gulf.
That way if ever their career path takes them to a state, government or, do I dare say, FEMA job one day, they have witnessed this shocking disaster first hand and hopefully will take measures to make sure nothing like this EVER happens again!

Keep "KEEPING THEM HONEST" AC! You're the voice for so many!
Posted By Anonymous Suzanne, Kingston, New York : 8:49 PM ET
A group of construction engineering students from Iowa State University spent last week in Waveland, Mississippi. What was unique about them is that the took along a trailer filled with $10,000 worth of donated construction tools. While there, they reshingled nine homes, drywalled and plastered two more and set windows and doors in several others. They finished the last roof by flashlight the night before they were to leave.

If stories like that don't make you proud of our young people, I don't know what will!
Posted By Anonymous Ann, Ames, Iowa : 8:50 PM ET
Good for them! But I'm sure they will celebrate when they get home! Perhaps they will inspire others to come and help. Everyone wants to forget about this whole thing, and you just won't let'em...
Posted By Anonymous Sarah Shaw, Shelby NC : 8:57 PM ET
Dearest Anderson,
GREAT STORY of HOPE for our future - thank you! I believe we Americans should all be doing out part TO HELP! I am a very proud to see that the future of our country "The Youth" is in good hands. Thanks for keeping KATRINA in the news.
Posted By Anonymous Liz, Chino Hills, CA : 8:59 PM ET
It's unfortunate that most people will never hear about this. If helping your neighbors during rough times were more recognized than getting drunk and having sex with strangers, then more people would want to do it. The press glamorizes spring break in Daytona and ignores the wonderful acts of socially responsible youth. That's enough to scare anyone when thinking of the future!
Posted By Anonymous Kim, Grand Rapids, MI : 9:06 PM ET
I just got back from St. Bernard Parish, just outside of New Orleans where I spent the week removing debris from houses through Habitat for Humanity. In answer to questions: Campus Crusade, Samaritan's Purse, Catholic Charities New Orleans, Common Ground (a local organization), Acorn, John Edward's group Volunteering Rocks, Habitat for Humanity, and uncountable smaller groups were all coordinating volunteers. Volunteers are provided with N95 masks, goggles, work gloves and hard hats, in some cases Tyvek suits were also issues, volunteers were also encouraged to wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, and steel toed steel shanked boots.
Posted By Anonymous Rosey, Buffalo, NY : 9:06 PM ET
It was great reading about this article and realizing that the reporter stayed with the same organization that I spent my spring break with. As trite as it might be, the experience was eye-opening but sadly it was due more to the fact that this was about six months later and the town, Christian Pass, MI, and, as I am sure the rest of the places affected, still looks as if Katrina had happend a week ago. I cannot stress how important it is for volunteers to continue helping in any way they can. Almost everyone who is still trying to re-build their houses have no other help than the people willing to do it for free. Please take some time out to help! Whether it's now, in the summer, or probably in a year from now, your help is needed.

To Mr. Daniels question: Yes, people helping in conditions that require protection of the sort are being equiped with the necessary mask and such.
Posted By Anonymous Paulina Houston, TX : 9:14 PM ET
I relocated to Gulfport, Mississippi from hurricane wrecked Florida. I was still shocked to see the horrific damage to the entire gulf coast. God bless these young people for their giving and helpful spirits. I am sure they will be greatly rewarded.
Posted By Anonymous Tara, Guflport, MS : 9:46 PM ET
If anyone would like to volunteer, and there are lots of folks that do, you can contact Habitat for Humanity.
If anyone is interested they should go to the Habitat for Humanity web site, and they will tell you about the volunteers that are needed, whether that is in TX, New Orleans or Mississippi. H for H will also put you in touch with other organizations (be it church or otherwise)that are doing great things to rebuild and help out our fellow countrymen. And no, a resperator is not provided, you bring your own, less than $20 bucks, (so feel free to skip the fast food for 30 days and save up). You can stay in a tent city,in many cases, clean, safe, three squares a day and help out your country. All it take is a six day committment. why not spend a week of vacation in the South? Soak up some Southern Hospitality and help your countrymen?
They are our neighbors. And be it a tornado, a hurricane or an earth quake... ther but for the grace of the God of your choice go I, or you for that matter.
It is only six days of volunteer work and a lifetime full of memories.
Posted By Anonymous renee hirschey austin texas : 10:00 PM ET
Anderson, My own two teens are very cognizant of the ongoing disaster that is the gulf coast (let's don't forget Mississippi). Some of their friends have been to help out - not only the weeks following the hurricane, but there have been several forays down south since then.

My son is very keen on the political side - the whys and wherefores of how our government seriously dropped the ball. My daughter has been more interested in the humanitarian efforts: rescues initially, and recovery in the months since Katrina. Firefighters from our county immediately went to New Orleans to man one of the stations. All of us also have very strong sentiments regarding the failure of the various governments to supply the immediate assistance that the US is famous for when responding to overseas disasters.

Why must we always put other countries' needs ahead of our own? I'm having difficulty answering that question myself. How do we explain to our children why our government let down its own citizens and taxpayers. Yet we bend over backward to provide military and humanitarian aid to people who really don't want us involved in their internal affairs.
Posted By Anonymous Deb, Richmond VA : 10:09 PM ET
Thank you Anderson for focusing on the good things we young people do! It's refreshing to see someone who is willing to focus on the good and not just the bad. Thanks!
Posted By Anonymous Kristen, Los Angeles, CA : 10:12 PM ET
As a college student who spent a week down there (Feb 25 to Mar 4) in Gulfport, MS I am glad to see you run this story. You are right, the damage is very shocking especially for the amount of time passed since the storm. I went with World Hope International and it was a life-changing time for me. To answer Mark Daniels, yes, we wore face masks to keep the mold out of our lungs. It will indeed take a very long time to rebuild, but the hope that we can give people is worth more than any roof we repaired.
Posted By Anonymous Ruth, Houghton New York : 10:32 PM ET
Hey Anderson -- Thank you so much continuing to focus on New Orleans and all that is going on there -- good and bad. I recently spent a week there, and all I can say is that it is so important to not forget about the people and what has happened. Yay for all the college students spending their spring breaks down there! And thanks to you for profiling them -- and for mentioning Common Ground, the group I volunteered through!
Posted By Anonymous Mary, Asheboro, N.C. : 10:33 PM ET
There are professors too that chose to spend spring break helping with the clean up. I was in the Gulfport/ Waveland area last week and was also struck by how much still needed to be done almost seven months later. Deeply moved by the huge number of volunteers on one hand, I could not help scratching my head trying to figure out why there did not seem to be a government presence when it came to cleanup on the other.
Posted By Anonymous Tiffany, Winter Park, Florida : 10:45 PM ET
I wish I could help, but I am too young. Just fourteen. It's been a while since the hurricane. Unbelievable that the government is still not reacting strongly. It's as if they are apathetic. I might be wrong of course. What do I know?

Great job, Anderson. You keep the news alive.
Posted By Anonymous Vicki (Livingston, NJ) : 10:55 PM ET
if I could really urge New Orleans to rebuild their houses enthusiastically and bring about spirit for every household and family I would try to start it!
Posted By Anonymous Baktygul, Almaty, Kazakhstan. : 11:00 PM ET
Bless these kids--would have been much easier to take the low road and head to Florida. Hopefully while they are working so hard, they can take moments to partake of the wonderful hospitality these parts have to offer.
I am a proud mother of a son that volunteered two years for Americorp. Watching these young women and men makes me as proud!! These experiences will last them a lifetime. Thanks Anderson for keeping the Katrina affected areas much in the news.
Posted By Anonymous Jann, Slidell, LA : 11:28 PM ET
Hey Anderson,

God Bless those kids for spending their spring break helping out in New Orleans. However, part of the credit goes to you. It's your emotional coverage from the Gulf Coast in those early days and your continued reporting that inspires us all to lend a hand. Without you, we wouldn't know how much New Orleans needs our help. Thank you and stay safe
Posted By Anonymous Christina, Windber, PA : 11:43 PM ET
I appreciate you highlighting this. My brother, at this moment, is in New Orleans helping out.
Thanks for bringing this to attention and giving credit to the young people.
Posted By Anonymous Christine, Somerset NJ : 11:45 PM ET
Dear Anderson,
I'm 15-years-old and interested in volunteering in either Mississippi or Louisiana for a few weeks in June. Could you possibly post a few organizations that offer programs for teenaged volunteers?
Posted By Anonymous Imogen, Southampton, NY : 11:52 PM ET
Thank you for your continued coverage of the New Orleans damage. It appears as though nobody is covering this anymore and if it weren't for you, some of us wouldn't know what progress (or lack there of) is being made. I'm sure your continued coverage has inspired these young people to help out during their spring break. What a gratifying and productive way to spend time off school. They will always have great feelings and memories about how they spent their time during spring break 06'. Not to mention, some very appreciative families.
Posted By Anonymous Nancy Dekker, San Diego, California : 11:56 PM ET
It's great to see the number of young people who are dedicating their free time to helping out those less fortunate.

However, I just want to point out that over 1,000 AmeriCorps*NCCC members are currently serving down in the Gulf Region. These individuals give 10 months of their lives to help out communities all over the US, with the majority of them now in the devestated Gulf Region. As an alumni of the program, I feel it's important to showcase these individuals as well.
Posted By Anonymous Lauren Hayes, Philadelphia PA : 12:07 AM ET
I aaplaud all of the volunteers that have been working in New Orleans. They are the ones that will get the work done and the area rebuilt. The government can't do it all. Everyone has to pitch in and help.
Posted By Anonymous John, West Bend, WI : 12:08 AM ET
Thank you very much for offering up such a great story! It is outrageous that more is not being done for the people of the Gulf Coast. Currently, the college that I attend has started up a new organization following the hurricane(s) to raise funds and supplies for a children's center in Corpus Christi, TX. Also we have sent numerous students to help with clean-up efforts (80+ again are going at the end of April) and a documentary covering New Orleans was developed by a group of media students. Keep helping! Just because the cameras stop, doesn't mean the story does.
Posted By Anonymous Amanda Waverly, IA : 12:13 AM ET
Hooray for these kids who think of others and try to help out. You should show them on the news, not just your blogsite.

A.Ann Pulley
Posted By Anonymous A. Ann Pulley, Willow Springs, MO : 12:55 AM ET
What a wonderful story, and what a wonderful idea! What orginizations are arranging "help" programs like that? How do you join? Those kids are a real inspiration to us all!
Posted By Anonymous Mindy Gibbs, Salem, Mo 65560 : 1:12 AM ET
Anderson, this blog is the best thing to happen to news since television. I am so grateful for all of the volunteers. Thanks to all of you. I still cannot believe that some think the Gulf Coast should not be rebuilt. It absolutely has to be. I estimate 25% of ALL imports and exports go through New Orleans and the Gulf. Our economy depends on the southern coast to send and receive goods. Is there anyway you could mention something about this and the consequences of giving up on the gulf? Obviously, it will not be easy, and maybe it will just happen again. But if an earthquake devastated San Francisco should we not rebuild it for fear that it would happen again? Who knows, maybe I'm wrong and we should all give up. Is there anyway you could do a pro vs. con story on this? It could bring much needed attention to this area, and make people STOP saying "DO NOT REBUILD!"
Posted By Anonymous Brittany, Shreveport, LA : 1:14 AM ET
Let's not forget the high schoolers - my 16-year old daughter and the rest of her high school church youth group are in Pass Christian, Mississippi, a hard hit area a little east of New Orleans. They're doing anything they can - labor, soup kitchen work, clean-up, hauling--whatever needs doing. These kids are great - they didn't have to go - they all volunteered. Thanks for giving them this recognition.
Posted By Anonymous Lynn Highland, Morrison, CO : 1:16 AM ET
If you're looking for organizations to volunteer with, Common Ground, HOPE Collective and Mardi Gras Service Corps are all helping to gut houses in the most afflicted areas of the city. Habitat for Humanity is also another great way to get involved. I have worked with all three and I can say from experience that both Common Ground and HOPE use respirators, tyvek suits, gloves and boots (all are provided free of charge to their volunteers) and Mardi Gras Service Corps provides masks and gloves.
Posted By Anonymous Kaylin, New Orleans, Louisiana : 1:27 AM ET
Having just graduated from college, I know how precious spring break is. What a beautiful sacrifice these young people have made. How many of us would spend our limited time and money to go do gritty back-breaking work for a stranger? It only takes a smile on that stranger's face to know that is worth more than any amount of time lying on a beach in Cancun.

We should all be trading in our swim trunks for a sledgehammer.
Posted By Anonymous Melissa F, Blackfoot, ID : 1:51 AM ET
Serena in Lubbock, TX.
His blog entry says the students are "gutting homes and helping residents try to clean up." The city does not have a clear plan to rebuild.
Posted By Anonymous Marla Gaspard, Irving TX : 5:37 AM ET
Hey Anderson I just read your blog on the students going down to New Orleans to help out instead of going to Florida to help out cheap motels and the booze industry. My niece from Connecticut is one of those and in fact it is her second time, so I have direct information on what a great job they are doing in that mess! I'm living in Japan and when I arrived back in the States for a holiday last summer the day that Katrina hit I have been following the neglect since. Keep up the good work and as you say try to keep them honest! See you 12 noon Tuesday to Saturday here. Shane
Posted By Anonymous Shane Leech, Amagasaki, Japan : 5:52 AM ET
Dear Anderson,

Just responding to Serena in TX. We haven't quite determined which part of the country would be the safest for anyone to rebuild in. There is Florida (with the hurricanes), California (with the wildfires and earthquakes), Ohio Valley with the New Madrid Earthquake Fault as well as Tornado Alley), then there are the Northern States who are bombarded every year by extreme blizzards. Where would you have them rebuild?

They DESERVE the right to re-build their homes on their ancestrial land, and have way fewer natural disasters than just about anywhere else in our Country. Do you even know how long it's been since a levee breach hit occurred there? A long, long time.

There are still Floridians fighting FEMA and their insurance companies from the hurricanes that bombarded them last season. No one told them to move.

Just wanted to clarify that Mother Nature does what SHE wants and there's not a completely safe place in the U.S. Maybe this will give you something to think about.

Posted By Anonymous Anna Lambert, Horn Lake, MS : 6:51 AM ET
New Orleans is a place I have come to love so dearly. My Grandparents were from there and moved to the Midwest in the 1920s. It wasn't until they passed away that I discovered this beautiful city. It absolutely hurts my heart to think about what has happened there. How and where does one sign up to volunteer to help. I usually come down over Easter weekend and would love to come down to help.
Posted By Anonymous Mark Gates, Minneapolis, MN : 7:00 AM ET
As a proud mother of one of these "kids", I can assure you they were provided with proper equipment.
I want to also give proper thanks to ALL the organizations that helped put this together
God Bless
Posted By Anonymous Mary Carter Jefferson,Tx : 7:50 AM ET
Please report this wonderful item as many times as yhou reported on the Hollaway story, or the Michael Jackson story, or others like it. I dare you.
Posted By Anonymous Margaret, Thousand Oaks CA : 6:00 PM ET
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