The winds and rain from Hurricane Florence hadn’t even arrived before some students and athletes from Cumberland County Schools began mobilizing to reach out to displaced victims of the horrific storm.
At Cape Fear High School, students in the classes of assistant football coach Joe Grates came up with the idea of doing something to help hurricane victims quickly after the storm passed.
“We first started talking about it late last Monday (Sept. 10) when real information about the strength of the hurricane was com-ing to us,’’ said Ben Elliott, a senior on the Cape Fear soccer team. “We decided to make relief kits we could get to people who had been displaced, then we made a list of items that could be donated.’’
With donations they were able to gather, a group of about 20 student volunteers from Cape Fear quickly assembled almost 40 boxes of food and personal hygiene items they could share with those who needed them most.
Austin Hunt, a member of the Cape Fear football team, said the students distributed the boxes to the shelter at Mac Williams Middle School, as well as to the shelter at Pine Forest High School.
They met a second day to make more boxes and were going to deliver them to the shelter at South View High School.
“This shows the school system is willing to help,’’ Hunt said. “After a hurricane, everybody is going to need each other.’’
Rev. Mark Knight, pastor at Fayetteville’s Epicenter Church, had the same feeling some years ago after parts of the community were devastated by Hurricane Matthew. Knight came up with the idea for a ministry called Ways2LoveFayetteville. The goal, Knight said, was to get people across the community to vol-unteer hours to perform random acts of kindness and work with other agencies and ministries to find ways to serve the community, find needs and fill them.
Following Hurricane Florence, members of the Terry Sanford football team decided to partner with the Epicenter ministry to help in cleanup from the storm locally.
Terry Sanford football coach Bruce McClelland felt it was important for his players to have firsthand experience of the damage the storm did locally and not just experience it by watching on television.
“Being a part of helping has always made me feel good,’’ McClelland said. “To have that feel-ing to help somebody else when they support you, I think it’s a very important part of life and growing up.’’
McClelland said the Bulldog football players had already been to neighborhoods in the area, cutting down trees and cleaning up yards. They also donated meals to the emergency shelter at South View High School.
“We’re just trying to plug holes,’’ McClelland said. “We owe it to go back into the community to give back to these people.’’