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From our house to theirs; teens offer disaster relief

This group of girls from Valor Christian High School traveled to the east coast to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. Valor teamed up with Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization to help many in need. The work was hard, but the team’s spirits were high!

By Julie Montoya; photos courtesy of Brian Bonn

As Americans, our hearts go out to those impacted by the wake of Hurricane Sandy. As a community, we could not be more proud of two of our young residents who, as part of a relief mission organized through Valor Christian High School, felt compelled to reach out to those victims in their time of need.

The perfect storm … that’s what the news media called it on October 22, when two powerful storm systems collided off the east coast and slammed ashore. Almost 200 people were killed, and more than 75,000 homes and businesses were damaged (in New Jersey alone); all at an estimated cost of more than $50 billion.

On November 15, forty-two students and staff from Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch – including Castle Pines residents Ross Macdonald and Maya Goodyear – headed to Ocean City, New Jersey; one of the hardest hit areas and it was devastated by the storm.

The Valor students teamed up with Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization that was already on the ground immediately following the hurricane. The students spent five days helping residents dig out from the storm. They teamed up with other volunteers and worked in groups on residential repairs, including rotten drywall removal, tree removal, and structural repair.

“To see all the people there struggling, and to help them out was incredible,” said Macdonald passionately. “I was devastated when I started talking to some of the home owners and they were still in such shock.” Macdonald went on to say, “You could really see how sad they were … It was probably one of the best things I have ever done!”

The team from Valor was up with the sun and they did not stop working until sundown. When the students finished a home, they would leave the family with a small gift: a Bible that was signed by all those who worked on that home. Students would also pray with the families. According to Macdonald, “The amount of emotion was overwhelming.” The importance of reaching the coast quickly was monumental, as residents of New York and New Jersey faced power outages, lack of drinking water, and sanitation issues. Trish Anderson, one of Valor’s academic councelors, helped organize this last-minute mission that was planned in just over a week. Missions to help others in need usually take months to coordinate, but this relief trip was put together on a moments notice, thanks to the quick actions of Anderson, and other faculty and staff at Valor.

When asked what was learned by the students on this mission, Macdonald’s own words poignantly summed up the feelings of the group when he said, “I learned to serve humbly. Not to put myself first, but put God and others first, and remember you are there to serve.”

Donations are urgently needed to help those affected. Below is a list of sites accepting donations for Hurricane Sandy relief:

Castle Pines resident and Valor sophomore, Maya Goodyear, helps clear foliage from a downed tree during Huricane Sandy relief efforts.

The Valor boys team. Some were known as “Saw Team Six,” which concentrated on tree removal and demolitions.

An NBC news crew interviewed several of the Valor students. The story aired on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams on November 19.



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