College Students Building Homes And Encouraging Voter Registration - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

College Students Building Homes And Encouraging Voter Registration

HARRISON COUNTY (WLOX)-- A group of volunteers on the coast this week is trying to build communities in more ways than one. An organization called Break Away has put together a "Renewing Democracy" trip to teach college students about community service. The students divide their time between repairing hurricane damaged homes and other encouraging people to register to vote.

A gas station. A grocery store parking lot. Even going door-to-door. The volunteers were on the look out for people not registered to vote.

Alicia Hurkman of Andover, Minnesota said "I've been just approaching people and asking them if they've already registered to vote. If they haven't I've been trying to explain a little bit about the political system and why it's important to vote. "

College students have journeyed from all across the country to work with a service oriented organization called Break Away. When they're not out building democracy, they're out rebuilding houses.

"It's good to see where the community is coming back in terms of building wise. The other half of the group is working on that," said John Brophy of Break Away. "Then what the Voter Registrar is working on is making sure people are registered and engaged citizens so they can make an impact on their communities as well."

The goal is for the students to use what they learn here to create Alternative Break programs at their campuses.

"This is the first time I've ever been involved in doing registration," said John Korpob of San Diego. "It's very interesting to see how a community can impact national change and local change as well. "

Kate Burpee of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, expects to grow everyone to grow from this experience. "They can apply to future careers, future opportunities that we might have. These are life skills."

Most of all the volunteers say they want people to have a voice in their communities.

Hurkman said "I think that if you are of age and are able to that you should be able to stress your opinion for how our country is led."

The nearly 30 college students are here registering voters. Break Away officials say the organization is not affiliated with any political party.

by Danielle Thomas

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