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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Katarina Rothhorn
Katarina Rothhorn
Features Writer

The first message I ever sent from my Northern Michigan University sanctioned email was to the editor-in-chief of the North Wind asking if there was any way I could join the staff. Classes hadn't even...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

NMU CARES — President Brock Tessman shares his feelings on the universitys new CARE Team. Photo Courtesy of Northern Michigan University
Letter to the Editor — Our New CARE Team
Brock TessmanFebruary 23, 2024

Group lends helping hand to torn-up Tennessee

While a typical college student’s spring break might revolve around teeny bikinis, cheap tequila shots and sandy beach towels, one NMU student organization sees spring break as an opportunity to do more.

Chi Alpha, a Northern campus ministry group, is gathering students for a trip to Tennessee to help victims of the February tornadoes. The group will leave Marquette on March 1, and return on March 8.

Dale Throenle, a graduate student and student leader of Chi Alpha, said the idea for the trip began when the group started receiving calls from the Volunteer Center.

“[The idea] came from students,” he said. “We had a call from the Volunteer Center asking if there was anybody going to help out in the tornado area.”

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Deborah Heino, the group’s adviser, said the organization’s history and past trips made the journey to Tennessee a plausible and welcomed idea.

“We have gone multiple times to Biloxi, Miss., and worked in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina,” she said. “We kind of got the reputation on campus as the organization that will put together volunteer trips to help out after natural disasters. The Volunteer Center kind of got the ball rolling.”

Throenle said that Chi Alpha is citing Nashville as the destination to give students unfamiliar with the area a sense of where they’ll be going, which is actually Lafayette, a city near the state’s capital.

“We’re using Nashville as kind of the focal point to give people a reference point to where it is in Tennessee,” he said. “It’s actually about 60 miles east to Lafayette. If a student wants to know where we’re going and we tell them Lafayette, Tenn., it’s, ‘Where in the world?’

“We don’t work on Sundays,” he added. “So we were planning to actually go into Nashville as sort of a side trip so people can get the feel for Nashville.”

Because Lafayette hasn’t received a lot of volunteers, Chi Alpha will mostly be focusing on cleanup instead of actual reconstruction, Heino said.

“There is not going to be any repairing homes,” she said. “[With] the homes that were hit, it’s a matter of tearing them down and rebuilding them. They were just totally destroyed. From what they’ve told me, Lafayette had the highest death toll in the state of Tennessee.”

Students will pay for the trip out of pocket, with the help of donations collected from canisters around the community and a possible contribution from local churches. Heino estimated the cost at $250 per student, including transportation, lodging and meals, but is working to get that number lowered.

The only member of Chi Alpha not heading to Tennessee is Ross Johnson, a freshman political science major and another one of the group’s student leaders. Johnson said that although he won’t be attending, he’s putting his energy into other efforts that will hopefully benefit the trip.

“I am helping out with the efforts of getting out the donation cans,” he said. “I’ve been posting up different posters and fliers up around campus and downtown Marquette. I’m trying to do my part even though I won’t be going there exactly. But I can at least help to get some people there.”

And even though Chi Alpha is a religious-affiliated organization, Heino said she stressed that sermons and Bible studies won’t be part of the trip.

“The one thing about our trips is that we always seem to have a lot of interest but a lot of times when [students] find out we’re a campus ministry it kind of scares them away,” she said. “I guess they think we might try to preach to them or beat them in the head with our religion or the Bible. That’s not our intent. Our intent is to take people down who want to help others and give them the opportunity to serve others.”

Throenle agreed and said that Chi Alpha is just looking for people who want to help, regardless of their religious beliefs.

“We don’t care about your denominational background, we don’t care about where you stand politically, all we care about is, ‘Do you want to go and help?’ And that’s it.”

For more information, students can contact Heino at [email protected] or [email protected].

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