Eleven Northwest Missouri State University students gave up a week of their winter break in December to reconstruct homes damaged by 'super storm' Sandy in New York City.
The students each paid $90 to cover travel and living costs. Money for other expenses was donated by area churches. The crew worked Dec. 16-21 on Staten Island alongside more than 400 other college students volunteering through Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
Locally, coordination and support for the service-learning trip was provided by the Baptist Student Union in Maryville, a ministry focusing on college-age youth located on Fourth Street just a short walk from campus.
"When Jason Yarnell, the BSU pastor, first announced it at our dinner meeting, I didn’t even have to think about it," said Jennifer McCoy, a junior organizational communications major from Gower.
"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."
The students worked on four houses, each of which had water damage ranging from moderate to severe. Crews of young people demolished and removed storm-ravaged walls, floors and appliances. One home was covered with nearly an inch of mold that had to be sand-blasted off.
“Some homes on Staten Island were built in the 20s and used to be vacation houses,” Reese Hammond, a Northwest graduate student. "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."
The group caught the attention of Fox News, which singled out the Northwest contingent for a spot on Fox & Friends in which Hammond, McCoy and senior Ethan Elgin were interviewed on live national television.
"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."