Friday, February 25, 2011

The Student Army

Get the title of "The Student Army" in your ears and what does it conjure? In my mind flickers of Tim Shadbolt, Helen Clark, the many many others at Auckland U in the early 1970's demonstarting (usually at the drop of a hat), drinking to excess (well, nothing has changed there), capping parades...

Here is a totally different picture for you...

From Grany Herald -
First, the power of nature. Now the power of Facebook.

Students are using their social networking skills to pull together a volunteer army of more than 1300 to help out the shaken Christchurch community.

An entrepreneurial Canterbury University student created a Facebook event page that brought 300 students, carrying shovels and wearing gumboots, on to the streets of Halswell and Hoon Hay ready to help affected residents yesterday.

The event page, Student Volunteer Base for Earthquake Clean Up, has 1356 people willing to help and the number is climbing rapidly as 5000 invitations are awaiting students to reply.

University student Sam Johnson created the Facebook page to gather the support of students during their extra week of holidays.

"We have a spare week to do some good for the community. It's the perfect opportunity to come out and do something decent," he said.

The event page reads: "Basically what needs to be done is door-knocking in teams and offering to help clear properties. Wheelbarrows, shovels, gumboots, yardbrooms ... hunt them out!"

Mr Johnson, 21, said he got the idea from other Facebook events created after the quake.

Hoon Hay resident Ellen Cooper said what the students were doing for the community was heartening.

"If anyone has never had faith in young people, well, now they should."

She said the students knocked on her door and asked if they could "do any hard labour".

Christchurch City Council gave the students a priority list of the most damaged areas.

TV news last night showed a group of about 30 digging silt from a major road and clearing the channelling on each side. From the wide views it looked like they had cleared some 200m of 4 lane street, judging by the piles of silt along the roadside. Now that is considerable effort seeing they are using shovels and wheelbarrows.

Another group (different area?) was digging out private driveways and access.

More power to their arms.

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