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Five hundred students, from almost every academic institution in the country, plan to take up temporary residence in Kiryat Shmona in an effort to aid the community in dealing with the war's aftermath.
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"During the war, it was easy to help. Now, two months later, the communities still need help; people forget there was a war," said Idit Duvdevany, one of the coordinators of the program.
"We had the time, energy and motivation," said Duvdevany, 25, a law student at Hebrew University.
The program was originally conceived by Avner Warner, 27, also a law student at Hebrew University. Duvdevany explained that he was responding to the general perception that students are self-focused and do not contribute to society.
"Now is the time to contribute in a unique way," she said.
Duvdevany, who served in the IDF Spokesman's Office as a reservist during the war, stressed the great importance of being in the North and actually seeing the situation there, saying one "needs to face reality."
The students will work in areas that generally correspond to their areas of study. Efforts will focus on five areas: staffing civil rights centers, forest rehabilitation and restoration, neighborhood restoration, bomb shelter painting, child emotional support programs and a children's day camp.
Word of the program spread with a simple advertisement on a Web site.
"Within four days we had more than 300 volunteers," said Duvdevany. In the next few weeks, the number of volunteers reached the 500 person limit. There are also 40 students from abroad participating.
The program evolved in such a spontaneous fashion that until last week the organizers did not know where they were going to get funding and came close to canceling the entire mission.
"Then, on the same day, the Jewish Agency and the Arison Group called independently and said they are on board," said Duvdevany.
The program will run from October 8-12. Program coordinators hope they will be able to create a long-term connection with northern communities that will continue into the future.
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