PIPPA PASSES, KY — Students at Alice Lloyd College are expected to serve as leaders throughout the Appalachian region. Part of the College’s curriculum focuses on the idea of Appalachian people helping Appalachian people. So, when tornadoes ravaged towns in Eastern Kentucky last month, ALC students rolled up their sleeves and went to work, determined to bring relief, assistance, and hope to those most affected by the storms.
A poor man served by thee shall make thee rich;
A sick man helped by thee shall make thee strong;
Thou shalt be served thyself by every sense
Of service which thou renderest.
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning
On Saturday, March 31st, David and Janet Johnson, both on staff at ALC, loaded up a group of students and traveled to West Liberty, the town hardest hit in the tornado outbreak. Back on March 2nd, a powerful, F3 tornado slammed into the small town, rendering it nearly unrecognizable and leaving many of its citizens devastated. Even now, a full month after the catastrophe, the people of West Liberty and Morgan County still require the aid of their fellow Kentuckians. This was the Johnsons second trip to the area. On this occasion, the Johnsons, along with ALC student Robin Warrix, worked with West Liberty’s Index Community Church in receiving and taking inventory of supplies, as well as filling the requests of the town’s families and other tornado relief workers.
“We are so moved by the overwhelming needs of the people in this area,” Ms. Johnson said, “and of the outpouring of volunteers trying to assist with cleanup and repairs.” Some of those volunteers – ALC students Allorah Henson, Adam Griffith, Adam Qualls, Alex Free, Tyler Engle, Han Gia Ly, Dina Albaree, and Brandon McGeorge – went out to the Woodbend area of Morgan County to work with the cleanup efforts for two families there. One of these families had suffered the loss of two elderly parents. Alex Free, a sophomore from Hulen, Kentucky, said, “Helping the tornado victims made us all realize how quickly we too could lose everything. It made us appreciate everything we’ve been blessed with.”
Accompanying the crew from Alice Lloyd College was James Owens, ALC’s Assistant Director of the Pioneer Food Service. Owens and his colleagues Jonathan Wilkes, Betty Long, and Dan Poset prepared hot meals of hamburgers and soup beans and cornbread for the volunteers, feeding a little over 300 people at West Liberty’s command post for the relief efforts. “It was a long day,” said Owens, “but the thankful smiles on those workers’ tired faces were worth every second of it!”
It was a memorable and rewarding day for all involved. Allorah Henson, an ALC senior from Beattyville, said, “It was an eye-opening and rewarding experience. I was amazed to see people so grateful after so much had happened to them.” Another ALC senior, Adam Griffith, who hails from Webbville, Kentucky, summed up the day for everyone by saying, “I felt blessed to be there and to be able to do what I could to help the victims.”
Due to more students expressing an interest in helping the people of West Liberty and nearby Salyersville, the Johnsons are planning on organizing another trip to the area in the next couple of weeks.
For those students who couldn’t venture off campus, several ALC clubs joined forces to host a fundraiser event. The IMPACT Club, Law Society, Alpha Chi, Allied Health Club, and Phi Beta Lambda came together to host an event in The Meadow on Tuesday, March 27th. The students organized several activities, including a “pie in the face” booth, a cornhole tournament, and a concession stand. Kimberly Patton, one of the students involved with the on-campus efforts, said, “The event was a success! We raised more than $300 and had a great time.”
In a time when great hardship and various tragedies dominate the news, it is refreshing to know that there are young people in this region who care so much for others. At Alice Lloyd College, these young men and women are fostering leadership skills and maintaining a commitment to service that compels them to act when they are needed. The leaders are here; and, with the example given by these students in the last few weeks, we can rest assured that they always will be.