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‘I Just Came to Help’: UMobile Students Volunteer in Tornado-Stricken Areas

Debby Faught had planned to spend the weekend studying for finals that would start on Monday. Instead, the University of Mobile student was on her hands and knees sifting through debris left after a tornado hit Concord, Ala. As a volunteer on a “memory team,” she was hoping to salvage a few special mementos for families whose homes were destroyed.

“I knew that if I had lost everything in something like this, I would want as many memories as I could find. Finding photographs and a baby’s first Christmas ornament broke my heart,” said Faught, a junior majoring in communication.

The University of Mobile sent 45 students and other volunteers from the Mobile community to help with disaster relief in Athens, Tuscaloosa, Pleasant Grove, Cullman and Guntersville May 6-8. In addition, the UMobile Student Government Association donated $5,000 to Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief, and students held a blood drive on campus.

The Pleasant Grove team, which included 12 UMobile students and three members of First Baptist Church Satsuma, was diverted to Concord.

“In times like these, you learn to be flexible,” Faught said.

The team discovered that Alabamians were pulling together to help one another through the disaster. When they stopped by a Lowe’s to pick up supplies, a man ahead of them in the checkout line heard they had come from Mobile to help and insisted on paying the $90.60 bill.

“I came this weekend just to see where God can use me,” freshman music major Magan Wade said, and Chance Hill, sophomore business major, added, “I just came to help.”

The students said they were surprised that in the midst of the devastation, they would find fragile items like a light bulb that survived being tossed around in the wind.

Chelsea McDill, a junior studying elementary and early childhood education, said she wasn’t prepared for the amount of damage she witnessed.

“Leaving the worksite, I had mixed emotions. Part of me felt proud of our small accomplishment, but a large part of me still felt disheartened because, despite all our hard work, there’s still so much more to be done toward rebuilding this community. What I learned today, though, is that in spite of all the destruction and devastation, God is still God and He is still good. I hope that our efforts today helped the people of Concord know that,” McDill said.

For more information on the University of Mobile, visit the website at www.umobile.edu, or call Enrollment Services at 251.442.2222, or toll free at 1.800.WIN.RAMS.

Photos by Debby Faught and article compiled from a journal she kept during the trip.

University of Mobile team and volunteers from First Baptist Church Satsuma spent
a weekend volunteering with disaster relief in Concord, Alabama

Savannah Autrey-Thigpen and Magan Wade, University of Mobile students, cleaned
up from the destruction left in Concord, Ala., after April 27 tornadoes.

Darryl Rogers, sophomore studying music education,
removes debris from a yard.


Chelsea McDill rakes debris into a pile.


Alex Meacham, junior, works with a team of Southern
Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers to haul off trees.

Kris Nelson, director of Residential Life at University of Mobile, works with Southern
Baptist Disaster Relief and UMobile students in Concord, Ala.

"I just want to help, even if that means carrying a limb," remarked Chance Hill.


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