After Hurricane Michael dealt devastating damage to Florida’s central Panhandle, Pensacola Christian College students, faculty, and staff stepped up to reach out to those in need. Even during their canceled day of classes, students were praying for the communities in the storm’s path and thinking up ways to help those affected by Hurricane Michael.
During the first few weeks after the storm, the donations began. Students, staff, and faculty collected baby supplies to be distributed to those communities. “The goal with these projects is honestly just to gather materials for the people who are in need and be a help while staying out of the way—the professionals are taking care of the cleanup for now,” said Max Shafer (Sr., NC), the Student Body Vice President.
Gracie Kirk (Jr., TN), the Student Body secretary, volunteered during baby supplies donation in the Commons Florida Rooms. “Most of the people who came in had a somberness about them and showed genuine concern for the victims,” she said. “A few of the people I spoke with either knew people who had been affected by the hurricane or knew people helping with relief/rebuilding services. So, they felt that donating to the drive was the best way they could help at the time.”
The following weeks, students, staff, and faculty began to donate water, canned food, and household items such as toothbrushes in addition to the baby supplies. “Seeing students donate supplies is especially encouraging because it shows their commitment to being a part of the community while here at school,” said Stephen Gowans (Computer Info Systems ’18), a systems administrator at PCC.
At the end of October, the Gulf Coast communities opened for outside aid.
A limited number of students, staff, and faculty drove over to Panama City on October 27 and helped the members of Grace Baptist Church with cleanup and clearing debris from their properties. The group was composed of 60 students and a number of staff and Campus Church members. The team of volunteers also worked at the Bay County sheriff’s office to clear the property of debris and pile up brush and limbs near the roadways for pickup.
Although cleaning the Gulf Coast of debris is far from being finished, Pastor Mike Jones of Grace Baptist Church and others have expressed their gratitude toward the volunteers who have helped them so far. “I want to give a hearty shout-out to Pensacola Christian College and Campus Church,” he said. ”They worked hard all day and have improved our circumstances significantly. Thank you all so very much!”
For those at PCC, the Lord provided protection from the hurricane, allowing them to be ready to help their neighbors once the storm subsided and live out the description in Nehemiah 4:6—“For the people had a mind to work.”