By WAYNE ALLEN
PDT Staff Writer
Out of the desire to help others, 19 members of the SkillsUSA team at Scioto County Career Technical Center traveled to West Liberty, Ky., on March 17 to help with disaster relief. The students and instructors said they were so moved by their experience they are going back.
West Liberty was one of the most heavily damaged towns among an outbreak of tornadoes to hit Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio on March 2.
“We went to West Liberty because we thought we could help. We did a lot of good down there,” said John Reedy, carpentry instructor who was on the first trip. “While there we took the Masonic lodge out of the Baptist church. The students worked hard in the rain. We did what we went there to do.”
He said when they were there the first time they helped with demolition and cleanup. He said on the return trip the group wants to get involved in rebuilding.
“I thought I would make a difference in another city I do not live in. Going down there I knew we were going to make an impact, even if it meant cooking lunches. While there I cooked food, helped tear out carpet in a church, dry-walled and helped a lady clean up her back yard. All of us were surprised by the extent of damage down there,” said Cody Penix, an Auto Tech student and a member of the Otway Volunteer Fire Department.
For Scioto County Career Technical Center Carpentry Student Kyle Mills, the decision was easy to go to West Liberty.
“I felt by going to West Liberty I was doing something bigger than myself. I did not know what to expect going down there. We were amazed at the extent of the damage. I feel like we made a big difference when we went down there last time, we cleaned up a lot of debris and found some historic photos that meant a lot to them. I felt good about what I did and I would like to do it again,” Mills said.
Lynda Spittle, Skills USA Chapter adviser and cosmetology instructor at Scioto County Career Technical Center, said before the trip a call went out to school staff to donate needed items, food and money.
“We ended up taking food, two sets of dishes, pans, blankets and about $600. Christ Brethren Church donated $300 for us to use while were were down there,” Spittle said. “We did not want to come back with anything that had been given to us to give away while were were down there. In the end we donated about $450 to the church we were working at to help them rebuild.”
She said the students came back excited about the work they had done and about the possibility of going back.
“The kids wanted to go back the next weekend,” Spittle said. “If we can get the adult leadership we can take up to 24.”
Students and staff are considering a return to West Liberty on April 13.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or firstname.lastname@example.org.