Students serve with hands and hearts in tornado-stricken Alabama
By Janel Shoun on 5/12/2011
|Students in Arab, Ala., with one of the tornado victims they helped.|
A group of 11 students chose to start their summer with service on Friday, May 6. The students went with Sam Smith, associate dean of campus life, to Arab, Ala., to help three families recover from the recent devastating tornados.
“It was a great opportunity to start summer off right,” said Clint Rider, one of the participating students. “For our first official day of summer, we had decided to use it serving God with our hands and feet and I think that says a lot for the people who went. They put God first even in summer vacation time.”
Contacts at Church of Christ Disaster Relief helped the Lipscomb group select three homes for service. The students cut up and removed fallen trees and cleaned up trash around three homes, Smith said.
“All of the homes had been damaged,” Smith said. “There was widespread damage all around. Some houses were totally blown off their foundations, and others had trees fallen on them.
“We went there to work and the (students) just naturally reached out to each family, spent time talking to them and praying with them. It was more than cleaning up trees, it was helping people see hope,” he said.
Student Lindsey Fisher lives in the Bellevue neighborhood of Nashville, which was severely flooded in May 2010, so she felt that the trip to Arab was a great opportunity to return the kindness she and her neighbors experienced during the Nashville floods.
“I saw a lot of trees down. I also saw many homes that were just completely gone. One place we passed only had a foundation and the entire roof was upside down about 100 yards away,” she said.
“We cut trees out of driveways, off buildings, off a camper, and even saved a chicken coup,” damaged by a fallen tree, said Rider. “There were so many downed trees, we could have done this for a week and still had more than a week’s worth of work to do.
"One of the greatest impacts I think we may have had was on the 90 year old man (we helped) because we saved his chickens and the building they were housed in. Seeing him so excited to have visitors and visitors who came to help made it all worth it,” said Rider.
Rachel Moen, an Alabama resident, said all the students “really enjoyed getting to work together as a team. Everyone pulled their own weight and we got things done so fast because we had many hands working together,” she said.