Concord Students Spend Fall Break Helping Hurricane Victims
Athens, W.Va. - For many Concord University students, fall break provided a much-needed respite from tests and academic projects so they could spend time with family members and perhaps enjoy a football game or two. But, five students in Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) decided to spend their break helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Pass Christian, Miss. The students left for the region affected by Katrina on Sunday, November 20, and returned on Saturday, November 26.
The five students were Dustin Buchanan of Princeton; Jesse Call of Pocahontas, Va.; Lorraine Justus of Hurley, Va.; Charlene Phillips of Lafayette, Va.; and Chad Wood of Cool Ridge. Rob Buchanan, pastor of the Advent Christian Church in Princeton and sponsor for CCC, also took part in the hurricane relief mission trip and provided transportation for the trip.
During the week, the students worked at three different residences in the area, which included tasks like removing downed trees and debris and gutting a house that was nearly wiped out by the storm surge.
The students spent their nights sleeping under a large tent placed in the parking lot of the Trinity Episcopal Church, two blocks in from the Gulf. Three meals a day were provided to the students in a tent along the beach called God’s Katrina Kitchen.
During the evenings, students spent time fellowshipping with other volunteers from Campus Crusade for Christ organizations at colleges and universities across the United States. One night, CU students led praise and worship at a church service held at God’s Katrina Kitchen, and CCC President Chad Wood spoke at the event.
“The experience was good,” said Charlene Phillips, “I met new people, grew stronger and deeper relationships with the people in our group who went. Some experiences were trying … but overall I had a good time. It was a wonderful way to spend Thanksgiving break.”
Motivation for students who participated in the trip included a sense of duty to a higher calling.
“I can actually make a difference in someone's life,” said Lorraine Justus, “I felt that it was a better way to spend Thanksgiving than to go home to a traditional dinner.”
“Someone has to,” said Dustin Buchanan about his reason for helping.
The students spent their Thanksgiving Day in the disaster area; however, they did not go without some Thanksgiving traditions. The Trinity Episcopal Church held a Thanksgiving service in what remained standing of the church that morning, and followed that with a feast for the residents and relief workers including the traditional turkey and stuffing. In fact, CU students enjoyed two Thanksgiving feasts because God’s Katrina Kitchen provided a similar meal that night.
The trip had a lasting impact on the students. For Justus the most memorable thing from the mission trip was the breadth of the devastation. “The image that sticks best in my mind would be looking for miles and seeing complete rubble and the destruction of people's homes. I felt like a kid in a poor country that just got bombed,” she said.
Dustin Buchanan said that he remembered a surprising and memorable comment from a resident he was aiding, “He said, ‘I'm really glad you all came to help ... I was beginning to think no one was going to come.’”
PHOTO: Concord students pose for a picture on a large downed tree outside their sleeping tent in Pass Christian, Miss.
PHOTO: CU Student Chad Wood of Cool Ridge uses a chainsaw to cut up a tree downed by Hurricane Katrina.
PHOTO: CU Student Dustin Buchanan of Princeton shovels up debris inside a nearly destroyed house on Second Street in Pass Christian, Miss.
PHOTO: CU Students Lorraine Justus of Hurley, Va. (front), and Charlene Phillips of Lafayette, Va. (back) survey the damage inside a nearly destroyed house on Second Street in Pass Christian, Miss.
CONCORD UNIVERSITY NOTES: Jesse Call, a junior majoring in political science and history, wrote this press release. His hometown is Pocahontas, Va.