LYNCHBURG, Va. – A Virginia university is sending two teams to Kentucky to help communities hit hard by floods and tornado damage over the past year.
The first team of students and advisers from Liberty University left on Wednesday for Jackson and will return on Sept. 4. While there, they will assist in cleaning up debris and beautifying properties. In July, the town was devastated by catastrophic flooding, causing thousands of residents to be displaced.
A second team will be in Mayfield from Oct. 2-8, where a tornado swept through the area last December, killing over 85 people. It was the deadliest December tornado event in U.S. history. The team will be helping to rebuild homes damaged during the storm.
The trips are organized by LU Serve Now, the university's disaster relief initiative. They will also partner with Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people worldwide.
"The Serve Now program puts students in the very midst of disaster relief and humanitarian aid situations in which they are building that skill of helping somebody, ministering to somebody’s spiritual needs, and ministering to somebody’s emotional needs," said LU Serve Director Chad Nelson, who will be traveling with the team to Mayfield.
Liberty University trip leader Syri Pendleton was busy working on a trailer Thursday morning for someone who was impacted by the flood that happened last year.
"Last year, Samaritan's Purse came out here with a team of Liberty students and they built this family a new trailer home," Pendleton said. "And the sad thing is that with the flooding that just happened, this home was destroyed for a second time."
Families in the areas Liberty University volunteers are working in are hurting, Pendleton adds.
"We've already heard some incredible stories of how Samaritan's Purse volunteers have been able to encourage families that have been out here," he said.
Trips like these, Nelson adds, allow students the privilege of exemplifying the university's mission to envision a life that elevates everything and everyone it touches.
"The program is a platform for students to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a unique way," he said.
Students and advisers have been able to pray for those in Kentucky and share a word of encouragement and tell them that they care about them.
"They're surprised," Pendleton said. "Families are very touched by the work that we're doing here."