Submitted by Angela Emde
The ninth- and tenth-grade students of Greeneville Adventist Academy in Greeneville, Tenn., played an active role in the restoration of the fire-ravaged Gatlinburg, Tenn.
On the night of the fire that engulfed the Smoky Mountain region of Gatlinburg, Greeneville Adventist Academy high school students began planning how they could help. The next day they began a donation drive of water bottles and granola bars, and by the following day, December 3, 2016, the students and their principal, Randy Nomura, were on their way to Pigeon Forge, Tenn. There they worked tirelessly to help unload donated water bottles and clothes into trailers which would later be taken to the shelters. Student William Jenkins states, “Because of this event, I was inspired to continue my volunteer work along with my fellow students.”
This desire brought students back a second time to help the fire victims. On December 13, the students and chaperones went to a food distribution center where they worked alongside other volunteers to help sort and organize donated food, clothes, toiletries, and blankets.
Later in the day, students saw firsthand the destruction of the fire as they went to the site where a church member’s cabin once stood. At this location, the students removed trees blocking the driveway. They were shocked by the destruction all around them.
Student Hannah Brass remarks, “It seemed unreal that this happened so close to home.”
Sophomore Lexie Dornburg recalls, “I saw melted dolls underneath a torched bed frame, and broken plates with memories written all over them.”
Greeneville Adventist Academy students had been previously trained in disaster relief at a Tri-City Christian Academy 2Serve Conference in September 2016, at High Point, N.C. The training was provided by Heritage Academy from Monterey, Tenn.
The students were eager to put their certifications to use by giving back to the Gatlinburg community that is dear to them all. “Service Above Self” is a motto the students use for motivation, and Kyle Miller, sophomore, says, “It was a great experience for me because I knew I was helping others in need.”
Students at Greeneville Adventist Academy are determined to help where the Lord calls, and Haley Jenkins, freshman, declares what is in all of their hearts: “I can’t wait to help some others again!”
Georgia-Cumberland | February 2017