Oglethorpe Family Delivers Hands-On Support to Disaster Stricken Communities

On Wednesday, 34 Stormy Petrels loaded up the Center for Civic Engagement vans to offer disaster relief for our neighbors in Ringgold, Georgia and Montgomery, Alabama, struck recently by devastating tornados. Students, staff, faculty, alumni and even an incoming freshman joined in the relief work, totaling over 214 hours of service that day.

OU President Dr. Larry Schall (left) works with students and staff at the Montgomery Food Bank. One student, Camille Taylor ’13, said “I had such a great time with my fellow OU family. I learned so much…this was such a fulfilling experience!”

The CCE organized Oglethorpe’s volunteers into two groups, one that worked in a food bank in Montgomery and another in Ringgold, where they participated in outreach efforts at a local church.  Each volunteer spent several hours in service sorting food at the Montgomery Area Food Bank , working on relief center projects in Ringgold, and going door-to-door in neighboring Rossville, Georgia to let residents know of the assistance that is available to them.  They also readied the distribution center for other volunteers who are scheduled to arrive next week.

“At first, it’s difficult to feel like what you’re doing is making a significant difference because you’re just one person,” said Megan VanDoran ’09, who works as an OU Admission Counselor.  “But with all of us working together, it’s clear to see that every single person’s help makes some sort of impact.”

In a letter to the Oglethorpe volunteers, Jaime Robards, Development and Volunteer Coordinator at the food bank, expressed just how valuable Oglethorpe’s service was to the organization. “The total number of volunteer hours reached an amazing 94.5 hours—which would have cost us approximately $1,672.65, and nearly two and a half weeks, to staff.”

Pictured: Group of volunteers in Ringgold, Georgia. “I am ecstatic about the response from OU staff, students and alumni,” said Tamara Nash, Director of the CCE. “We are a community of people who truly care and we’re willing to lend a hand to help others. We live and breath our motto: Make a difference.”

Robards also thanked the group for donating  37 pounds of hygienic supplies for disaster victims in 14 of the hardest hit areas.  Because most of the immediate needs of disaster victims have been met, the community is moving toward a sustained recovery phase, in which efforts like those from OU volunteers are truly needed.

“As a native of Atlanta, I was excited to have my hometown represented in such a powerful way,” wrote Robards.  “We enjoyed your energy, enthusiasm, and spirit, and your tremendous focus on the task at hand.  We are grateful to have worked with such a remarkable group of individuals.”

Oglethorpe was recently named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement. Read more.