WHITTIER – Instead of going to the beach or visiting her family, Katie Adolphson will spend her spring break from Whittier College this week gutting houses with a sledgehammer.On Friday, Adolphson, 19, joined 54 other Whittier College students who departed to spend their spring break in New Orleans, helping to rebuild the Ninth Ward, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in August. “It’s a good opportunity to help other people, and forget about your own trivial issues,” said Adolphson. Caroline Heldman, a political science professor at the college, organized the trip. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventThis is Heldman’s fifth trip to New Orleans since the hurricane hit. She has produced a documentary about residents she met with after the storm. But, this time, she’s focusing on rebuilding. “We will be helping rebuild, gutting homes, laying concrete, doing carpentry and plumbing,” said Heldman. “It will be roughing it; we’ll shower every now and then.” The group will join hundreds of other college students from all over the country who have chosen to spend their spring break volunteering for Common Ground Collective, an organization that formed after the hurricane to help New Orleans. Lisa Fithian, a Common Ground Collective coordinator, said 2,700 college students coming from every state and seven countries have volunteered during their spring break. “Most of what spring breakers do is house gutting,” said Fithian. “We’ll have done 175 houses by the end of March.” The experience changes many volunteers, said Fithian. “We always say that no one leaves the same way they came,” said Fithian. “This is outside many people’s experiences: it’s a disaster zone in poor, black communities where students from all over the world have come. I think these kids’ minds have been blown.” As Whittier College students packed Friday morning before driving to the airport, they talked about feeling drawn to go to New Orleans. “I wanted to go down ever since it happened,” said Laura Cameron, 21. “I probably would have gone home to Chicago if I didn’t do this. This is a good way to help, and to do something rather than just donating money.” Heldman said she is inspired by the students who joined this trip. “People say college students are apathetic, but I think this overwhelming national response from students says this generation does care about national concerns,” said Heldman. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!