Ole Miss Law Students Organize Drive to Help Jacksonville State University Students in Wake of Tornado

In the wake of destruction in Jacksonville, Alabama, two Ole Miss law students took it upon themselves to help the community heal.

A tornado with winds up to 150 miles per hour devastated the Jacksonville area March 19, leaving many school buildings and student apartments at Jacksonville State University without power and others condemned after suffering severe external damage. In the wake of the tornado, the University of Mississippi Student Bar Association (SBA) is taking donations of money and school supplies to assist JSU students transitioning back to school.

“Why? Because my fellow students have a heart for philanthropy, and we all recognize that we could just as easily be in these students’ shoes,” said Chloe Kennedy, one of two law students leading the campaign.

Second-year UM law student Marilyn Higdon graduated from Jacksonville State University as a psychology major in 2014. When the tornado hit her alma mater several weeks ago, she was devastated.

“Luckily, there was no loss of life because the students were on spring break,” Higdon said. “However, there were still some students there, and several of them were injured. I know one individual lost his arm.”

Both Higdon and Kennedy agreed that JSU had done so much in their lives, and they felt an obligation to give back to the school in its time of need.

“Sitting watching the news, you know, you just get that helpless feeling,” Higdon said. “You see your home, your alma mater, the place where you spent four years of your life in school, and you see complete destruction headed its way.”

Kennedy said she felt the work was necessary to complete.

“In my mind, it goes along with the saying ‘to whom much is given, much is expected,’” she said. “As a result, I feel like it’s not just important to do this work, but it’s my duty.”

Instead of letting helplessness win, Higdon and Kennedy contacted the JSU alumni coordinator and Board of Trustees to ask what they could do to help the school and the student body to recover.

“The response we got back from both was that mostly what’s needed right now is everyday supplies that students need to go back and forth from class: phone chargers, water bottles, backpacks, those types of things,” Higdon said.

The pair has set up a collections box for goods and a monetary donations box inside the law school. The drive will continue through the end of this spring semester.

Higdon said she recognizes how difficult it is sometimes for students to make charitable donations, and that is the reason behind organizing the goods drive as well.

“You know, we are all just broke college students,” Higdon said. “Sometimes we don’t have 20 bucks to give. However, we may have a bunch of phone chargers or something, so if anyone wants to donate a good, that is also so greatly appreciated.”

While there is no list of specifically needed items, Higdon asks students to think of items they use daily.

“Imagine anything in your apartment, if your whole apartment was wiped out and wet, that you would need to be able to go to class and finish the semester,” she said. “That’s what JSU students need right now.”

As a result of the tornado damage, many JSU students don’t have anywhere to live and are struggling to finish out the semester.

“This drive is just giving some type of ease to the students getting back to a normal way of life,” Higdon said. “Sometimes the little things that we can give are the most important.”

Anyone who wishes to contribute can email Kennedy at cekenne1@go.olemiss.edu.


By: Hadley Hitson, Daily Mississippian