A group of seven Crowder College students and four adults leave today to aid in relief efforts on the East Coast following Hurricane Sandy's destruction.
The students, who are members of the Baptist Student Union, along with their trip chaperones, are headed for Staten Island, N.Y., to assist in cleaning out homes and helping those homeowners to prepare for rebuilding.
Aaron Werner, campus minister with the BSU, said the group would spend four to five days performing mud-out work.
"We'll go into a home and remove all the damaged items and then gut the house," Werner said.
Werner said he's not sure how many flood-damaged houses the group will be able to work through.
"I'll be happy if we can get two houses done," Werner said.
Werner said he hopes the trip can be a learning experience for the students.
"When you get to go and help someone out who has lost everything it kind of puts things in perspective," Werner said. "I think they get a better grasp on life and what's important."
For Kristen Geary, a freshman at Crowder, the trip may hold a little more meaning.
This is Geary's first trip with the BSU, though, following the May 2011 Joplin tornado, she is no stranger to the damage a natural disaster can do.
"It feels really good to go because my grandma lost her house in the tornado, so I know what it's like," Geary said. "I've always just had a helping heart, so I decided I'd rather help people out on Christmas break."
The volunteers left today for their 20-hour drive and are expecting to arrive at their destination on Friday, Werner said. They plan to return to Neosho on Friday, Jan. 11.
Werner said the organization also aided in relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina and in Joplin following the May 2011 tornado.
"We like to give back to the community," Werner said. "We also like to help others, that's what we're all about. We go to help."
Werner said while the trip to New York isn't cheap, the students' fees have been kept to a minimum thanks to more than $3,000 in contributions from area churches and businesses.
Once in Staten Island, the volunteers plan to sleep on cots in tents and undergo safety training.
They will be joining volunteers from other colleges and universities, as the trip is part of a Specialized Collegiate Relief Effort.
The volunteers will be taking extra safety precautions, including using safety equipment such as ventilated masks, due to the contamination from sewage in the floodwaters.
The group of volunteers includes students Geary and Scott Bishop, of Neosho, Kyle Rummins, Mansfield, Mo., Brian Savard, Greenfield, Mo., Yulia Desisyuk, Ukraine, Esther Aidelomon, Nigeria, and Kaori Sawamoto, Japan and chaperones Werner, Bill Webster, and Eric Harris, of Neosho, and Latonia Bailey, of Goodman.
Page 2 of 2 -