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On Saturday, Dec. 5, a group of 33 Olivet College students and two employees will travel to Georgetown, S. C., to help rebuild areas of the city affected by massive flooding.

For the past decade, Olivet College students have spent part of their winter break serving in devastated areas of the country. The annual service trip began in 2005 when students traveled to the Gulf Coast to help rebuild areas damaged from Hurricane Katrina. They have also assisted with relief efforts along the Jersey Shore following Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, and last winter, students traveled to Moore, Okla., to help restore areas of the city destroyed by a deadly EF5 tornado. The college decided to focus its service efforts this year on the city of Georgetown.

“The idea of a December disaster relief trip came from students who wanted to help the families of New Orleans 10 years ago,” said Mike Fales, director of service learning and campus ministries, and assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies and religion. “I am always amazed that so many of our students are willing and excited to give up a week of their Christmas Break to serve the needs of total strangers.”

In October 2015, massive flooding in South Carolina claimed 19 lives and left the state with more than a billion dollars in structural damage. The magnitude of the natural disaster was so severe, that it was later described as a “once-in-a-millennium” flood.

The students will be staying at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Georgetown and will partner with All Hands Volunteers, a non-profit organization that addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. Their work will include tearing down drywall, floors and ceilings of community members’ homes in order to restore them to structural soundness. While in South Carolina, they will also visit historic Charleston, as well as the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier and Mother Emanuel AME Church. The group will return to the Olivet College campus Saturday, Dec. 12.

Students participating include: Jesse Alcala, of Lansing; Kaycie Berg, of Battle Creek; Jarrell Brackett, of Olivet; Linnea Brege, of Rogers City; Tyler Britten, of Mendon; Madison Carr, of Highland; James Collins, of Lowell; Nick DeChalk, of Concord; Tom Dihle, of Alpena; Jessica Doster, of Three Rivers; Casey Eldridge, of Vermontville; Jennifer Elliston, of Olivet; Mitch Galloway, of Coldwater; Konnor Geiger, of Clarksville; Dominique Giroux, of Windsor, Ontario; Adam Greathouse, of Eaton Rapids; Anjina Griffin, of Detroit; Marissa Guile, of Williamston; Megan Hackney, of Eaton Rapids; Austin Hickey, of Harrison; Nick Jones, of Plainwell; Rachel Joseph, of Chesterfield; Zachary Kitzmiller, of Midland; Isabelle Leon, of Grand Rapids; Miranda Miller, of Mecosta; Alyssa Monterusso, of Grand Rapids; Victoria Monterusso, of Grand Rapids; Jacob Richards, of Saline; Jade Rodriguez, of Eaton Rapids; Eric Simmons, of Parma; Mckenzie Skiendziel, of Battle Creek; Hailey Willett, of Leslie; and Rachel Zeiler of Ida.

The trip is organized by Fales and Carrie Jacob, community service coordinator. For more information, contact Fales at 269.749.7624 (office) or 517.231.6818 (cell), or Jacob at cjacob@olivetcollege.edu.

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