Jan. 25, 2013
Students offer assistance to hurricane victims, make national news
By Philip Gruenwald, media relations assistant
Baptist Press: Fox News highlights Baptist student relief efforts
Eleven Northwest Missouri State University students gave up their first week of winter break to reconstruct homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy in New York.
Eight male and three female students packed themselves and their luggage in two vans and drove 12 hours for two consecutive days. Each student paid $90 to cover travel and living costs, while other expenses were covered by donations from area churches. They worked Dec. 16-21 on Staten Island alongside more than 400 other college students volunteering through Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
They slept in heated tents, worshipped at a nearby church, used tools donated by the North American Mission Board and ate food cooked by other volunteers. Despite the simple living conditions, Northwest students were happy the Baptist Student Union (BSU) gave them the chance to help.
“When Jason Yarnell, the BSU pastor, first announced it at our dinner meeting, I didn’t even have to think about it,” Jennifer McCoy, a junior organizational communications major from Gower, said. “I definitely have a call toward missions. It says in the New Testament five times, ‘Therefore, go and make disciples.’ It just made sense for me to go. Here I had this chance and if I don’t go, I’m just going to sit on the couch and do nothing.”
While working alongside homeowners, the Northwest students were frequently asked why they would surrender their break to travel across the country and help random people. Some students were asked the same question by their family members. But the 400 student volunteers from across the country let their actions explain their purpose.
“It was cool to see people coming together for no other reason than someone telling us, ‘Hey, these people need help,’” graduate student Reese Hammond said. “And our response was, ‘Okay, let’s do it.’”
The students worked on four different houses with water damage ranging from moderate to severe. Students demolished and removed damaged walls, floors and appliances, and even had to destroy a damaged 80-year-old bathtub with sledgehammers. One home had nearly an inch of mold on every surface that had to be sand-blasted off before more work could be done.
“Some homes on Staten Island were built in the 20s and used to be vacation houses,” Hammond said. “After all these years, a lot of these houses have like five layers of floor. So we had to try to get up every single layer and it just got messy.”
Four hundred philanthropic college students caught the attention of Fox News, which singled out Northwest’s group for a live interview on “Fox & Friends.” Hammond, McCoy and senior Ethan Elgin were interviewed on live national television, which they said opened up conversations among other student volunteers and their friends.
“It was great to have this opportunity for us to reach people who needed our help, and go on national TV,” McCoy said. “Now, the 11 of us have a stronger connection and we’re able to share this story with the rest of the BSU and the rest of campus.”
The Baptist Student Union is located at 401 W. Fourth St. and is open to all students. It provides a Dollar Dinner at 6:15 p.m. on Mondays and a RealLife worship gathering at 7 p.m. on Thursdays. For more information, visit http://www.northwestbsu.org/.
For more information, please contact:
Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900
Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468