Student army takes to the streets after the Christchurch earthquake

By Olivia Carville

Students help out in cleaning up Rydall Street, Hoon Hay. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Students help out in cleaning up Rydall Street, Hoon Hay. Photo / Mark Mitchell

First, the power of nature. Now the power of Facebook.

Students are using their social networking skills to pull together a volunteer army of more than 1300 to help out the shaken Christchurch community.

An entrepreneurial Canterbury University student created a Facebook event page that brought 300 students, carrying shovels and wearing gumboots, on to the streets of Halswell and Hoon Hay ready to help affected residents yesterday.

The event page, Student Volunteer Base for Earthquake Clean Up, has 1356 people willing to help and the number is climbing rapidly as 5000 invitations are awaiting students to reply.

University student Sam Johnson created the Facebook page to gather the support of students during their extra week of holidays.

"We have a spare week to do some good for the community. It's the perfect opportunity to come out and do something decent," he said.

The event page reads: "Basically what needs to be done is door-knocking in teams and offering to help clear properties. Wheelbarrows, shovels, gumboots, yardbrooms ... hunt them out!"

Mr Johnson, 21, said he got the idea from other Facebook events created after the quake.

Hoon Hay resident Ellen Cooper said what the students were doing for the community was heartening.

"If anyone has never had faith in young people, well, now they should."

She said the students knocked on her door and asked if they could "do any hard labour".

Christchurch City Council gave the students a priority list of the most damaged areas.

- NZ Herald

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