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Monday, February 28, 2011

UC Student Volunteer Army

Student army on the move

SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2011
 
 
Thousands of student volunteers are helping to clear silt-covered streets after last week's devastating earthquake.

The Student Volunteer Army was formed after the September 4 earthquake, when hundreds of Canterbury University students helped residents to clean up the worst-affected suburbs.

Group founder Sam Johnson said more than 3000 students had taken part in the latest volunteer effort since it began on Thursday.

An administrative team of 100 people were helping to co-ordinate the work, with volunteers working through sections of the city "quite methodically" to ensure that work was completed as quickly as possible.

"Instead of having five people spending a day on one property, we have 20 people spending one or two hours – it's a big morale-booster."

Group members were meeting regularly with Civil Defence, Fulton Hogan and City Care to determine which parts of the city they should visit.

Johnson said the group had received donations of food and supplies from all over the country, as well as a $20,000 grant from the Ministry of Youth Development.

He hoped a nationwide wheelbarrow appeal would help to address a current equipment shortage, which was hindering volunteer efforts.

Organisers were also trying to keep volunteers motivated, so they would work for as long as possible.

"We can't let people get too bogged down in the emotional side of it.

"If we want to keep them volunteering, they need to enjoy themselves," he said.

Johnson was at an emergency management conference in Wellington when the earthquake hit, but flew down to Blenheim and drove to Christchurch that night.

Anybody wanting to volunteer, or who needs the group to help in their area, can register at sva.org.nz.

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