Cleveland State Puts Community First With Disaster Relief Efforts
CLEVELAND, Tenn. – When Cleveland State Community College heard about the tornado devastation experienced by two of the counties in its five-county service area, the CSCC faculty and staff swung into action to assist with relief efforts! Campus leadership formed an emergency response team to create a plan for supporting communities in need of assistance.
Faculty, staff and students assisted with clearing trees and tornado debris. One such group was the CSCC Wildlife Society, under the leadership of Robert Brewer, Professor of Biology, who volunteered in both McMinn and Polk Counties.
“The student chapter of The Wildlife Society feels very strongly about service to our community,” stated Brewer. “This was an excellent opportunity for us to help our neighbors. Besides, who doesn't love to run a chainsaw?”
“I am really proud of my team,” stated David Wright, President of the CSCC Wildlife Society. “We all felt the same way about this—we are very passionate about helping others, and we are fortunate to be in the position where we could help, so we felt that need to pay it forward. We got it cleaned up and made a big difference in a short amount of time. Our main goal was to help as many people as we could, and I think we accomplished that goal.”
Holly Merrell, Secretary of the CSCC Wildlife Society, helped at both the Athens and Polk County clean-up days. “Being from Polk County, I felt a call to action to help those that were affected. I had several friends that lost their homes or had acquired damage from the passing tornado. If I was in a position to help, I was going to do it!”
Merrell continued, “I worked with the Monterey Lion's Club disaster response team both times. We all rolled up our sleeves, got to work, and started putting east Tennessee back together. There's really no other feeling quite like the feeling you get when you help someone in need!”
The CSCC family also donated to the college foundation’s disaster relief fund and invested some of these funds into the purchase of items for 100 comfort kits which were donated to the Red Cross Emergency Shelter at Keith United Methodist Church in Athens and to People Helping People of Benton after Student Senate leaders assembled the kits.
The campus community also made material and financial donations directly to local charities and participated in an Athens Chamber of Commerce outreach to two specific families impacted by the tornados. At CSCC’s Holiday Concert and Fall Commencement, donations were collected from attendees and distributed to storm victims. The disaster relief committee gathered names of current students affected by the devastation and contacted them to determine needs and gift cards and other items were distributed to assist with those needs. Faculty, staff and students also participated in the clean-up day sponsored by Keep McMinn Beautiful and assisted McMinn County tornado relief organizers with sorting donations.
Tornado victim Bryce Coffey stated, “I am very appreciative to Cleveland State for the gift card and clothing. It really helped me a lot. I was able to buy some more shoes and jackets with it. I only had one pair of shoes, so I just want to say thank you so much for doing that for me. It really meant a lot.”
The CSCC Wildlife Society was one of the groups from CSCC that assisted in clearing of trees and other debris after the recent tornado devastation in McMinn and Polk counties.
CSCC Student Senate leaders assembled comfort kits for the American Red Cross. Pictured from left to right: Student Senate Vice President Joseph Owens, Student Senate President Haley Hodgson and Student Senate Secretary Rachael Goodson.