Students Volunteer in Hurricane-Devastated Areas

January 01, 2006

The definition of “mission trip” found a meaning closer to home for four schools who sent a delegation of students and chaperones in November to help clean up hurricane-devastated areas.

In Waveland, Miss., 24 Skagit students painted floors, gutted houses, removed sheet rock and insulation, emptied mud-filled bathtubs, and threw piles of debris out of the windows, reported 11th-grader Ariane Brandt and Lisa Knudsen, North Cascade Adventist Church communication director.

The group also participated in “Random Acts of Kindness,” an outreach program to provide families and the elderly living in FEMA trailers and tents with heaters, blankets, hats, gloves, scarves and socks.

“The people were so grateful and happy, even though they had lost everything,” said Debbie Fogelquist, trip coordinator.

Thirty-four PSAA students also provided hurricane relief in Waveland. PSAA parent Jill Clay wrote in an e-mail that Thanksgiving took on a new meaning for the students and sponsors who volunteered in Mississippi.

“We all found it difficult to leave, as there was so much to do,” Clay said. “We felt we had only scratched the surface. We realized that the need is so great there, and the devastation so extensive, that it will take years to gain normalcy for the people there."

Auburn Academy students assisted with relief efforts in Pearlington, Miss., one of the hardest hit communities. Thirteen Auburn students and four students from Lewis County Adventist School worked together to gut houses, clean yards, visit residents, paint homes, provide neighborhood worships, and conduct resident surveys for FEMA.

By working closely with other schools and organizations, participants forged new friendships and gained a new appreciation for God’s blessings.

“The people, sights and smells we will never forget,” Clay said. “Pray that we all, students and sponsors alike, will burn brighter with a love for others and Jesus because of this experience.”