By Haley Lynch, Staff Writer

Minarva Craig fundraiser for the New Orleans trip that will partner UMF students and Habitat for Humanity (photo courtesy of Kristopher Kelly)

Minarva Craig fundraiser for the New Orleans trip that will partner UMF students and Habitat for Humanity (photo courtesy of Kristopher Kelly)

UMF’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is busy planning and fundraising for their annual trip to New Orleans. The purpose of the trip is to work alongside Habitat for Humanity in order to build new homes for people affected by Hurricane Katrina. The trip is scheduled to take place during UMF’s February break.

The overall cost of the trip is roughly 600 dollars per person, which includes all but spending money.  Samantha Sturtevant, a UMF graduate who participated in the trip last year, said fundraising was incredibly helpful of paying for the trip. “Many people didn’t have to pay out of their own pocket to go last year,” said Sturtevant.

Sturtevant said the homeowners showed nothing but genuine gratitude towards the volunteers. “The person we were helping build the house for was so kind and appreciative for all of the hard work we were doing, she even bought us a king cake!” King cake is a New Orleans specialty.

Students are also able and encouraged to meet people in the community to ask them about their experience during Hurricane Katrina. “New Orleans does still need help. It was almost unbelievable that all of this has been going on and that so many people don’t even realize it,” said Noyola.

While the majority of the trip is working on the different sites, there are many other aspects of the trip. “We take tours of the city,” said Sturtevant. “We get to go to the French Quarter for one of the nights and eat Louisiana southern food.”

This year there are many plans for fundraising already in place. Minarva Craig, UMF sophomore who is helping to organize the fundraisers, said there are plans for bake sales, selling t-shirts, bottle drives, and a craft sale. “We have a lot of great plans,” said Sturtevant. “We are also planning on having a ‘Night in New Orleans’ treat with beignets, which are a New Orleans specialty. We are making some other treats and having some jazz music and karaoke going on as well.”

Students who have participated in the trip to New Orleans in the past years have said it is a great way to give back and to meet new friends. “I would recommend students to try and participate because it was a great experience. You learn new skills and make new friends. It also made me feel good for doing something for the people who lost everything and needed help,”

said Maria Noyola, a UMF sophomore who participated in the trip last February.

Craig, who also participated last year, had similar feelings. “I went last year and it was amazing,” said Craig. “I worked on a site digging trenches to get it ready for the foundation for a house. It’s a great way to give back to a community that is outside of your comfort zone.”

Students who are interested in signing up can contact Craig at Minarva.craig@maine.edu and will be added to the group’s e-mail list. Informational meetings will also be held throughout the year.