Students/staff give up part of Thanksgiving break to help storm-stricken in New Jersey

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A group of 10 students and three mission team leaders left Lipscomb University on Friday to spend part of their Thanksgiving break providing hurricane relief labor in New Jersey. The group will return to Nashville Wednesday, Nov. 21, after four days of manual labor to help residents severely affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Lipscomb University’s missions and campus life departments have arranged for students to work with Christ in Action, an organization run out of the Cedar Run Assembly of God in West Creek, N.J., to carry out manual labor in storm-damaged homes. With just about a week's prep time, officials arranged for team members to be housed by members of the Tabernacle Church of Christ in Tabernacle, N.J., the home congregation of Lipscomb University freshman student Jessica Wright.

Peter Chimera, Lipscomb University freshman from Philadelphia, has already been to the New Jersey area to help his family repair their homes after the superstorm that hit in October. Chimera helped clean out his uncle’s home in Long Beach Island, N.J., which had three feet of water in it during the storm.

“It was the first time I went to bed before 7 p.m. in years. You’ll really be that tired,” he told his teammates before they set off for New Jersey. “Things look normal from the outside (except for the occasional boat in the road), but it’s got a really eerie feeling because all the businesses are closed.”

Chimera, who was headed home anyway for Thanksgiving, is joining the group in their efforts and told them they can expect to do a lot of tearing out water-damaged sheetrock and insulation, helping people remove damaged possessions from their homes, possibly sorting clothes or shoveling sand from driveways.

The Lipscomb students participating in the Hurricane Sandy mission team are:

  • Alejandra Asencio
  • Gabriela Barboza
  • Anthony Crawford
  • Fatjon Dervishi
  • Megan Inman
  • Edgar Mitznahuatl
  • Michael Oruma
  • William Poff
  • Erin Wood
  • Peter Chimera

“Most of the people you will serve will be physically and mentally exhausted, so you will be a breath of fresh air to them just by being willing to help. You can really be Jesus to them,” said Mark Jent, assistant director of the Lipscomb missions department.

Lipscomb sends nearly 700 students, faculty, staff, alumni and interested community members to about 25 nations and six locations in the U.S. annually. In the past, Lipscomb has sent student mission team to provide emergency relief after Hurricane Katrina, the tornados in Jackson and in Alabama, and the Haiti earthquake.