International Student Exchange Aids Victims of Fire

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Foreign exchange students assist in food drive for residents of Bucyrus.

In mid October the town of Bucyrus, North Dakota, experienced the effects of a devastating wildfire that tore through the small town destroying nearly everything in its path.

Virtually all of the town’s thirty residents were turned out of their homes by the blaze and forced in shelters, some not knowing if they would ever be able to return home, or if they even had a home to which they would return.

Residents of the surrounding communities in Adams County began opening their doors to those fleeing the ruined town, but looked on with worried awe as the fire grew and grew, threatening to breach the borders of the neighboring communities and spread even further.

Luckily, firefighters and local volunteers were able to contain the blaze before it widened any more, but at a time when most people would be making preparations for one of the most celebrated American holidays, the devastation and tragedy of the Bucyrus fire could not be understated.

But amidst the tragedy, a warmhearted and eager group of people took it upon themselves to try to make the fall season a little brighter for the recently deposed residents of Bucyrus.

A team of exchange students from International Student Exchange and volunteers led by their Host mother Audrey Nelson-Cihak and Our Savior Lutheran Church were able to collect enough food and supplies to assist the displaced families in having a happy Thanksgiving.

Over the course of several days students from countries such as Sweden, Brazil, and Spain accepted donations and put together baskets, and with the help of the donation network established by Our Savior Lutheran were able to distribute the food to those in need, reaching out to over 20 families.

International Student Exchange will be honoring those students who participated in the distribution as part of the Project HELP initiative that sets up community service campaigns for visiting exchange students. As part of the initiative, each exchange student is asked to perform 20 hours of service in the community in which he or she is placed, creating a nation-wide network of volunteer services that give back to local communities participating in the program.

In the coming months, students from the same region, nicknamed “Gemstone” by the Regional Manager Marybeth “Pebbles” Whiddon, will be participating in several other projects around the Fargo, Bismarck, and Sioux Falls areas.

International Student Exchange, founded in 1982, is a non-profit organization that brings together people from all different cultures and creeds. Located in Babylon, NY, ISE is helping to educate tomorrow’s leaders one student at a time.

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Tal Stanecky
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