Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- Forty college student volunteers from South Dakota, Indiana, and West Virginia are in New Orleans this week helping 'Youth Rebuilding New Orleans.' The agency restores blighted or foreclosed houses.

'I've been here three times doing service work, and I really like the idea of it, plus I'm a teaching major and they sell their houses to teachers,' said University of South Dakota student Marissa Miller.

'I've always been very compelled, I guess, to help others,' added classmate Cassy Jerrett.

But Monday morning Youth Rebuilding New Orleans leaders found the trailer they use to store tools had been broken into and mostly emptied.

'Shocked,' was how YRNO Executive Director William Stoudt described his reaction. 'You open it up, and you see what used to be a full trailer is empty, and then there's just a little bit of disgust.'

The thieves stole $5,000 worth of equipment.

'We lost all of our power tools, essentially,' said Stoudt. 'What we have now is the broken ones, or the ones that were not on the site. But we lost table saws, we lost drills, batteries, all of our nail guns, our compressors.'

'I come from a place where you don't lock your doors at night,' said angry University Of South Dakota student Mackenzie Huber. 'So to hear that someone would steal tools from a non profit is really heartbreaking.'

There are six houses that are either being rebuilt right now or are on the waiting list for Youth Rebuilding New Orleans. They've got hundreds of volunteers coming here in the next couple of months, so they urgently need donations to replace the stolen tools.

'We really need it,' said YRNO's Jack Stycznski. 'We're a non profit, so we really don't have a lot of extra money in our till.'

Contact Youth Rebuilding New Orleans by calling their office at 264-3344, or visit their website at

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