When Harrells Christian Academy students returned after Hurricane Matthew shut the school down they went straight to work. Not only in the classroom, but by packing items on large bus to help victims of the storm.
The school began collection efforts Monday for its Stuff The Bus initiative. Some of the items collected included water, non-perishable food items, diapers, linens and cleaning items. Meredith Horne Allen, HCA marketing specialist, said support was overwhelming.
“The majority of our families and people in the community have stopped by and brought things,” Allen said.
Items were also collected during football and volleyball games. For admission, items were accepted in place of cash. A delivery was made to Pender County Thursday morning. Items will also be sent to the United Way and crisis center in Bladen County and delivered by eighth-grade Junior Beta Club members.
Senior Brooke Raynor, community service prefect, is one several students who enjoyed stuffing the bus with donations.
“Everybody goes through their point in life where they need help,” Raynor said. “That’s what friends are for in the community. You just need to help everybody because you know they would help you, even if you don’t know them.”
Raynor said generosity is something God placed in her heart. During the year, she also assisted with the Adopt-A-Cop program, which allow students to send appreciation gifts to law enforcement professionals.
“I still feel like he can work through me to help them, Raynor said.
Although the students were effected by the storm, many still found a way to lend a hand.
“We had numerous families with flood waters in their house,” Allen said.
Two families with ties to HCA had to leave their home because of flooding. One of them was Katie Johnson, an eighth-grade student from Bladen County.
“I want to help them because I know how it feels,” said Johnson, a Junior Beta Club member.
She’s been back inside her home, but she was unable to go inside due to health hazards such as mold. It’s going to be a long time before she returns. But during tough times like this, families pull together.
“Harrells has always been a community of family,” Allen said.
She added that the sense of togetherness extends outside the walls of the school.
“That’s part of our job as Christians — taking care of your fellow man,” Allen said.
Horne said it’s a good way to model what a Christian is supposed to do as well.
Marcia deAndrade, a nurse for HCA, also assisted with the project. The Bladen County resident was not surprised about the response of the students, staff and community members.
“That’s the beautiful thing about Harrells,” deAndrade said. “We come together as a family and help those in need.”
To express her point she quoted scripture from Matthew 25: 35-40, which talks about helping people in need.
“We show that here when something likes this happens,” deAndrade said. “When something like this happens or anything else happens, we rally around and support them. It feels pretty good to know that I’m a part of an organization that helps those during need.”
The drive ended Thursday, but Allen said HCA will continue to accept donations.
“If people want to give afterwards, we’ll make sure it’ll go to the appropriate places,” she said. “Harrells Christian Academy will always serve as a hub for donations for the community.”
For more information about donations efforts, contact HCA at 910-532-4575.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook