Boy Scouts of America Troop 506 (chartered through Christ United Methodist Church in Halls, Tenn.) went to Pleasant Grove, Ala. in May to help with the clean-up after the EF-4 tornado decimated that area. The trip was organized through Mike Linholm at Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church, which was converted to a tornado relief site shortly after the storm. Classrooms were used as bedrooms to provide shelter for as many victims as possible.
The tornado devastated that area. Many of the people the scouts met had lost all of their belongings, and others had lost family members, or pets. Most properties were identified with cardboard signs displaying the address, as there was nothing standing, only debris, downed trees and power lines.
They received several addresses from Mr. Linholm of property owners who had requested help in cleaning up their property. They divided up into teams, and began cleaning. It was a hard job, but very worthwhile... and definitely an experience of a lifetime.
Venture scout, Chris Griffith, found a small box that contained a wedding ring. The troop returned it to the Church who contacted the owners. They came to the Church immediately to meet the troop and the scout who found the wedding ring. They were in tears as they explained that the ring, a few dishes, and one of their two dogs was all that they had left. They felt lucky to be alive, and had neighbors who did not survive the storm. They were very appreciative of the Scouts’ efforts.
The trip left such an impact on Christina Buck and her friend, Betsy Lee, of Girl Scout Troop 988 that when they began considering a theme for their Girl Scout Silver project, they knew that they wanted to continue to help the victims in North Alabama. “The trip was one of the most memorable things I’ve ever done in my life,” said Buck. “I’ll never get the images of the destruction or the people it affected out of my mind.”
They contacted Emily Nelms, the Disaster Information Coordinator for the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, who is coordinating their efforts to collect needed winter items for the victims. The items needed include: men’s and women’s new or used (but in good condition) coats and sweaters, men’s and women’s thermal underwear (new only please), tabletop Christmas trees, and Christmas decorations. They will be collecting these items until the end of October when they plan to deliver them. If you have any items to donate, call 865-300-8998 to arrange for pick-up.
*Sarah Baker writes for the Knox Focus, a community paper serving Knox County, Tennessee. Used with permission.