AmeriCorps volunteers head north toward hope

Published 1:00 pm Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A squad of Vicksburg-based AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps members headed to Yazoo City this morning for debris clearing and more. “Our fundamental priority is to give them hope,” Jordan Mohr said as the group packed up. “This will be probably the most difficult assignment for us,”

Mohr, 23, of Greensboro, N.C., is one of about 20 in the federal program who will work in cleanup and recovery from Saturday’s tornado. He said he was glad to go, but apprehensive. “We understand that in this situation some people have lost their lives. Some have lost everything,” Mohr said.

AmeriCorps NCCC established one of its six national centers on the campus of the former All Saints’ Episcopal School in 2009. From here, young people who sign up for the program fan out to perform community service jobs in several states.

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Katlyn DeMayo, 24, of Liberty, N.Y., said she also had mixed emotions this morning. “I’m really excited to get in there and help these people out,” she said.

NCCC Public Relations Specialist Erika Roberts said the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service is coordinating disaster response efforts with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency along with NCCC, which will reportedly be working as needed by the American Red Cross.

Roberts said she expects the group to offer assistance for the next few weeks.

Monetary donations and shelter relief items are being sought by local charitable and humanitarian organizations to help tornado victims across the state.

“We’re asking for blankets, tarps, cleaning supplies,” said Lt. JoAnn Frazier of the Vicksburg Salvation Army.

She said those items, as well as canned food, bottled water and bath towels, can be dropped off at the office at 530 Mission 66.

The local American Red Cross and Salvation Army are also seeking cash donations, which can be made online. The Red Cross Chapter is at 908 Cherry St.

Also, a group of wrestlers heading to Vicksburg for a weekend show are planning a meet-and-greet to aid storm victims. Details were being worked out, said Erin Powell, Vicksburg Convention Center sales and marketing manager, but for a fee fans can meet several of the TNA wrestlers. Funds will be donated to the United Way and Red Cross, she said.

Those wanting to volunteer can register with Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service. Volunteers can register online at or by calling 888-353-1793. The MCVS has established an emergency Volunteer Reception Center in Yazoo City at 1601 County Barn Road. Volunteers are asked to be on stand-by until they are contacted.

AmeriCorps members get food, housing and a stipend during their service and upon completion of the program are eligible for other aid, including tuition assistance.