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Gazette Premium Content Univ. of Alabama students aid Okla. twister relief

Associated Press Updated: March 19, 2014 at 10:31 am

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — A group of University of Alabama students will spend spring break helping build new homes in Moore, Okla., a suburb of Oklahoma City struck by a devastating EF5 tornado in 2013.

About 16 students will make the trip for the 2014 Alternative Spring Break from Sunday to March 28. The students and leaders who will accompany them are from the Capstone Community Service Center, a university office which promotes volunteer work.

The trip is the outgrowth of the original response on campus by the Community Service Center and Alabama's Student Government Association to the May 2013 tornado, said Kimberly Montgomery, assistant director of the center. There were 24 deaths related to the system, according to National Weather Service Weather records.

Students at Alabama organized a gift card drive after the storm to help survivors.

Montgomery said students felt strongly about offering assistance following the aid and influx of volunteers that came to Tuscaloosa in the aftermath of the deadly April 2011 tornado killed dozens in the city and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.

Many of the Alabama upperclassmen who volunteered were freshman or sophomores and saw firsthand the recovery efforts by volunteers from outside the state.

"They saw a lot of different campuses come and help in the community," Montgomery said.

Those memories play a part in the desire by some students to help with disaster relief now.

The center usually plans international trips for spring break but scheduled the Midwest trip because of the student interest, Montgomery said. The Oklahoma trip is the only service project for the center during spring break, she said, noting other organizations on campus likely have their own projects for the break.

The service trip next week was originally proposed for Christmas break, but affiliates in Oklahoma recommended the spring as a better time, Montgomery said.

The students will work on two homes being constructed by the Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity, though organizers hope work will be far enough along on two other homes for students to help during the trip.

The students will likely help with interior work on the houses, including drywall and cabinetry, Montgomery said. Habitat for Humanity will provide on-site training for the project, she said.

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