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Church volunteers rush to help tornado victims

Clarkston volunteers take a break from helping clean up after severe storms down south. Photo provided (click for larger version)
May 25, 2011 - On April 27, a massive tornado tore through northern Alabama, leaving devastation in its path.

Less than a week later, a team of 16 volunteers from Clarkston United Methodist Church decided to help pick up the pieces.

The group traveled to Pleasant Grove, Ala., one of the worst hit towns in the area. For three days, the team worked with Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church and other agencies to help rebuild.

It was a touching trip for everyone, said Greg Martin, team organizer and youth director at CUMC.

"At each place there was an amazing story of people who didn't see themselves as victims, but as survivors. Their will to press on was just overwhelming and inspiring," Martin said.

One of the volunteers was Clarkston resident Morgan Hoxsie.

"As soon as I heard about it, I just wanted to go to help and be there for the people," Hoxsie said.

The team spent long days helping families recover from the tornadoes, working from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. each day. Work included moving debris, patching holes in damaged roofs, cutting up and removing fallen trees, and helping families find lost valuables in the rubble.

Through all of the hard work, Martin has no regrets with his decision to organize the mission trip, and hopes others will want to make similar trips in the future.

"Don't hesitate," he said. "If you overthink it, you're always going to be able to find a reason why you can't go. If you're compelled at all by people who have lost everything and still have faith, sign up and go. Don't shut down that initial incline that we all have to go and help our brothers."

Hoxsie also has no regrets and looks forward to helping again.

"We've been discussing going again in three months," she said. "We don't know where they'll be in three months. We don't know if they'll be rebuilding or what they'll need. So we'll just have to go in open-minded and ready to help in any way that we can."

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