The University of IowaAnnual Report 2008-09



Students choose service over spring break sun

Kate Tomka, Undergraduate student

We all obviously know that the flood happened. We saw all the video, the film, the pictures. But once you actually get to these houses seven months later, and the fact that they’re all just sitting there rotting, basically, it’s really just devastating.

The reason I got involved with the alternative spring break program was because I work for the Office of Admissions, and some of our counselors are from Cedar Rapids, so they really wanted to get involved with it. So they asked us if we would be interested in trying to help. So we tried going to several local businesses, getting donations of bottled water, safety goggles, and then we got the students to actually go sign up and volunteer.

It’s pretty cool to see students actually putting in the extra time and being pretty selfless—instead of going and getting a tan or hanging out and partying, they’re up here in Cedar Rapids, trying to help a local community that is very close to Iowa City and the University.

We got there, and first they pretty much just laid out a bunch of tools, ‘grab something and we’ll give you specific tasks.’ It was pretty basic. I thought ‘OK, I can handle this, I’ve got a hammer, this isn’t too bad.’ And then they gave us crowbars and shovels, and had us peel off about seven layers of floor. We had other students who were taking down drywall, some going at that with a crowbar and a hammer. Basically just getting every article out of those houses.

So the entire sidewalk was just covered with garbage and with drywall, floors, and then you see the teddy bears and the dolls and the strollers sitting out there, and it just breaks your heart.

I think it’s great that Sally Mason got out there because she was out there over the summer, trying to help sandbag the river, and for her to be out showing her support for something that’s not even where the University is located, just shows that she’s really committed to the community and the state as a whole—not just for educating but just for the greater good.