HAMMOND- More than a hundred Southeastern students traded in their textbooks for recovery tools on what was supposed to be their first day back to class.
The registration table at the Student Union Wednesday wasn't for a club or recreational sports team, though the long-line turnout certainly seemed that way. It was a sign-up station for students to help flooded families in the areas surrounding their Hammond-based campus.
"They were supposed to start school today and instead of starting school they're out in the community and working and about to see some things that are pretty amazing," said SLU professor Amber Narro.
"Just kind of show that someone is there for them in their time of need," said sophomore Matt Labbe, "Show them that there can be light in the darkest of times."
That light was a moving surprise for one homeowner in Ponchatoula's Country River neighborhood.
"I was here by myself and a crew of kids showed up. Blessing not even in disguise. They are here, they're cleaning, big help. Big help," said Nathan Boulet, "I was a little emotional this morning, but it's getting a lot better."
Coming into a community with debris piles upon debris piles can certainly be overwhelming, but some of these students haven't shied away because they say they've seen it before in their own front yards.
"Native of New Orleans, I was there for Katrina, I know what it's like," said sophomore Joseph Ricci, "So seeing the destruction in Katrina is almost numbing to a point where you're going up to a house and you know you're going to have to gut it."
But they know their presence brings promise.
"A lot of heartbreak, but hope that we're here for a reason right now," said Cole Wascom.
"It's sad, but it's good to see Southeastern kids coming together to help someone out in need," said Terri Dawson.
And they're hoping this lion pride will help the community roar back to its feet.
This grassroots effort will be at it again Thursday, August 18th. Students and staff interested in helping can meet at the student union for 9 a.m. Those who can't volunteer can donate supplies at the same time and location.