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Why a service trip?


In September 2011, the Texas "Lost Pines" region - thousands of acres of loblolly pine trees separated by a hundred miles from their plentiful cousins in East Texas - was struck by the third most destructive wildfire in United States history.  A combination of prolonged drought, low humidity, and driving winds combined to turn the pine forest of Bastrop County into a firestorm of epic proportions.  Thanks to the heroic efforts of first responders and neighbors helping neighbors, thousands of residents were evacuated safely, but two lives were lost.  In a matter of days, the fire burned over 34,000 acres and destroyed - totally - nearly 1,700 homes.  Hundreds whose homes survived were unable to occupy them for 1-2 weeks and in many cases return to homes heavily damaged by smoke and without power for many more days.


Join 44 volunteers from UMD and the greater Duluth community as we help re-build homes in and round Smithville, Texas, that were destroyed by the fire.  Volunteer leaders are coordinating the effort through Faith Village (http://www.fpcsmithville.org/faith-village.html) and the Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team (http://www.franlan.com/BCLTR/).  The trip is open to people of all faiths, spiritualities, and ways of understanding.  Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, in good physical condition, and have an open and flexible attitude.  Before departing, each person’s skills and experiences will be assessed, and work groups will be sent to sites that best utilize their talents.