HCA students build two wheelchair ramps in Sampson

By Emily M. Hobbs Staff Writer

March 20, 2014

A group of Harrells Christian Academy students have put into practice their belief in helping others, volunteering recently to build some wheelchair ramps for some Sampson County residents.

“This was one part of a much larger emphasis,” said Andy Wells in an interview Tuesday. Wells was the project manager for two wheelchair ramps for Sampson County residents that were built at the home of a Garland resident and a Willard resident.

Eight boys from Harrells Christian Academy signed up for the project that provided handicap access to two homes.

Both projects were selected by the Sampson County Department of Aging, and Steven Wilson was their coordinator. The SCDOA provided all the materials for the project, right down to the pressure treated lumber, materials for a cement pad, and galvanized nails. The DOA also provided the group with sketches on how the ramps were to be laid out according to regulations.

“We go out and see what the client needs and give the (teams) an information sheet,” Wilson said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “We have a code we go by to build the ramp.”

“We deal with volunteers throughout the year and this was the first time with Harrells Christian Academy,” explained Wilson.

Wells said that HCA’s Paula Matthis did most of the pre-planning for the students, and that the team met a week prior to the project.

The students brought hand tools, and the men brought in the heavier equipment like nail guns, shovels and post hole diggers.

“We made sure everyone knew what they were doing,” detailed Wells. “We had it preplanned.” He said that the group met up the last week of February, had devotions and then proceeded to move on to their stations.

“The men met us there,” added Wells. “They were the brains of the operation. Those guys have done it a lot.”

He said that the men really took the time to teach the kids, training them in construction aspects of building a ramp.

“It was not just from the service standpoint, but the construction aspect as well,” he explained. “They were very patient. They had done it a lot and some of our students never had (done it before).” He said that the men’s expertise was beneficial in helping the team follow the county guidelines in regards to the construction of their project.

Four adults worked on the projects with the students, including the Rev. David McClellan, Ed Rouse, Bert Alabaster, and Wells.

“The students were able to sign up,” Wells said. The students could chose between local projects or out-of-town trips, with approximately 10 to 12 projects to choose from for their Cmester.

“I’m an Eagle Scout,” said Cole Nye, a senior at Harrells Christian Academy. “This was not my first project like this. I love helping people and I have a passion for it.” He said that the had also built a ramp with his church in a project called “Deep Impact.” That was in Elizabethtown.

“The second lady we had built a ramp for had just turned 90,” he said. “We sang Happy Birthday to her.”

For Cullen Hobbs, this was also not his first time participating in a ramp project

“I enjoy building things; my family owns a cabinet business,” Hobbs detailed. “I am also experienced with a nail gun. I also enjoyed helping; it felt good.” Hobbs is in the 11th grade at HCA.

He said that it was nice seeing how grateful the residents were after the students had completed the ramps.

Others on the project had never built a ramp before.

“I’ve helped people before, but this was the first time I have built a ramp in the community,” said Banks, a freshman. “I also enjoyed seeing how thankful they were, and the look on their faces.”

Overall the boys said that they enjoyed working on the project.

“I help people out when I can, like picking up sticks after a hurricane,” Banks added.

“I do service projects at church,” said tenth grader Adam Bowker. “I had never built a wheelchair ramp before. It was good to see them helped. They were really grateful that we came out.”

“They did a real good program,” added Wilson. “It saves the county money and helps other people.”

Adam Bowker, Carl North, Christian McLaughlin, Cole Nye, Don Banks, Garrison Wilson, and Cullen Hobbs are the eight that worked as the handicap ramp building crew for ramps in Willard and Garland.

Steven Wilson said that anyone who would like to volunteer with a a wheelchair ramp project to please call him or Angela Faircloth at the Department of Aging at 910-592-4653.

Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at