Students and Young Adults Help Georgia Community Recover After Hurricane

November 5, 2018 • United States
Students came from across the country to help with recovery efforts in Albany, Georgia.
Students came out to help with recovery efforts in Albany, Georgia.

Samaritan's Purse volunteers of all ages are working in Albany, Georgia, to help a community devastated by Hurricane Michael.

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As Hurricane Michael ripped through southern Georgia, Albany State University was forced to postpone their annual homecoming festivities. Classes were cancelled, and students were evacuated.

More than 160 college students from Albany State University gave up their Homecoming morning to help families recover from Hurricane Michael. Photo courtesy of Sherwood Baptist Church.

More than 160 college students from Albany State University gave up their Homecoming morning to help families recover from Hurricane Michael. Photo courtesy of Sherwood Baptist Church.

When students did return, the destruction they found in their community was profound. Determined to bring hope and joy back to the city of Albany, the university rescheduled its homecoming activities but added one event¬—the inaugural Homecoming Day of Service.

More than 160 current and former Albany State students volunteered with Samaritan’s Purse on a Saturday in late October. Teams of volunteers helped affected families remove downed trees and clear storm debris.

Miss Albany 2018, Alexandria VanDyke, applauded her fellow millennials for spending the morning serving their neighbors. “Seeing them out here early this morning ready to help and ready to go is just a wonderful thing for the community,” she said.

Working for a Common Cause

Like many families in Albany, William and Yvette Ponder had no idea how they would clean up their tree-cluttered yard following Hurricane Michael. The morning of October 20, William was lying in bed thinking “nobody is going to help us.”

Miss Albany 2018, Alexandria VanDyke, serves alongside more than 160 college students as part of Albany State University's Homecoming Day of Service. Photo courtesy of Sherwood Baptist Church.

Miss Albany 2018, Alexandria VanDyke, serves alongside more than 160 college students as part of Albany State University’s Homecoming Day of Service. Photo courtesy of Sherwood Baptist Church.

Moments later, he received a call from a Samaritan’s Purse volunteer team leader. “He called me early and said, ‘We are going to have about 50 Albany State Students out there today’ and I just said wow,” William said.

William and Yvette, both Albany State University alumni, were amazed that young students from their alma mater would give up part of their homecoming weekend to help them. “It’s truly a blessing to have them out here,” William said. “I know they could be doing a whole bunch of different things like planning for this game, getting ready. We are blessed they are donating of their time to help us.”

Ryan McClendon, 22, was thankful for the opportunity to give back to his community. A member of the Albany State University baseball team, Ryan had returned to his home in Atlanta to escape the storm. “I felt like I was helpless in Atlanta and I couldn’t help anybody or be a blessing to somebody,” Ryan said. Now, Ryan plans to continue volunteering with Samaritan’s Purse after classes and on weekends.

“What I see is people working together for one common cause,” Yvette said. “That’s what Christ requires of us—working together so we can all see him.”

Time Devoted to God

Not all of the young people serving in Albany are from the local university. Siblings Benjamin and Amber Jensen drove 27 hours from Colorado to help hurting families in Georgia recover from the storm.

Elizabeth Trephan, 18, removes a portion of a tree after it fell in a family's yard during Hurricane Michael.

Elizabeth Trephan, 18, removes a portion of a tree after it fell in a family’s yard during Hurricane Michael.

Benjamin, 19, and Amber, 18, are devoting their time to serving the Lord while they are young and waiting to see what He has next for their lives. “Our desire is to do something for other people and be able to dedicate time solely to God and not worry about work and school,” Amber said.

The Jensens also plan to serve with Samaritan’s Purse in North Carolina—in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence—before returning home for Thanksgiving.

Similarly, 18-year-old Elizabeth Trephan from Florida was excited to serve with us and learn from senior leaders. “As a young person, I love meeting the older people and learning from them—they have so many life experiences, and they will tell you story after story,” Elizabeth said. “You see 60-something, 70-something, 80-something-year-old people that are out here serving, and it brings them so much joy in their life.”

Watching homeowners respond to the work being done in Jesus’ Name is her favorite part of volunteering. “It’s so rewarding to see the joy on the people’s faces, and we get to give them a Bible and share the Gospel by our actions and what we do,” Elizabeth said.

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Samaritan’s Purse continues to work in five locations across Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina following hurricanes Florence and Michael. From these locations, plus a South Carolina site where we recently completed our efforts, more than 7,000 volunteers have served over 1,800 families in need. We’re mudding out flooded homes, tarping roofs, clearing fallen trees and spraying to prevent mold growth. We praise God that more than 200 homeowners have prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!

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U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of volunteers to provide emergency aid to U.S. victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the aftermath of major storms, we often stay behind to rebuild houses for people with nowhere else to turn for help.

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