(October 21, 2013)

Centenary students help bring relief to tornado victims in Oklahoma

SHREVEPORT, LA — Twelve Centenary students and two staff members traveled to Oklahoma City for Centenary's annual Fall Break Mission Trip to help with tornado relief efforts in Moore. The area suffered damage from multiple tornadoes on May 20, 2013; since then, relief efforts have been formed in order to help repair damages and rebuild disrupted lives.

Centenary students use some elbow grease during the Fall Break Mission Trip to Moore, Oklahoma

On the first day of the mission trip, Centenary students picked up debris such as roof shingles, glass, plastic, and household items at a park in Moore. The park is located near the site of Plaza Towers Elementary, where seven students lost their lives on the day of the tornado. The second and third days were spent helping local citizens Ken and Maria, whose seventeen-acre property had been devastated by an F5 tornado. The students cleared debris, moved tree limbs, collected metal, and helped fix the property fence.

The trip was planned by Assistant Director for Intercultural Engagement Nicole Rapagnani and student intern Mara Cumberland. They selected the city of Moore as the destination for this year's trip due to the recent tornadoes and the pressing need for immediate action. For weeks they worked to make arrangements and spread the word about the trip.

"I really enjoyed it," said Cumberland. "There were moments when I felt like I helped a lot, and there were moments where I felt I was helped a lot. I learned a lot about the community; the people in Moore have struggled and still have a sense of coming together in the face of destruction and loss."

During the mission trip, the Centenary students stayed at the Church of the Harvest's Oklahoma City campus. Church of the Harvest is a contemporary church that has contributed heavily to the tornado relief effort, deploying over 5,000 volunteers in affected areas and putting 46,000 hours of work into the effort. Centenary students also worked alongside the Convoy of Hope, another organization dedicated to helping to repair the damage done by the tornado.

"I am grateful to our students for identifying a break from classes as an opportunity to serve," said Reverend Valerie Robideaux, Director of Professional Discernment and Chaplain. "The students on the trip embody all the qualities of Centenary students: motivated, compassionate, thoughtful, and hard working. I can honestly say that everyone came back to campus changed. Serving others in the midst of pain and recovery will do that."

The Christian Leadership Center (CLC) and Chaplain's Office have been promoting local, regional, and international mission trips since 2005. For more information, visit Centenary's upcoming mission opportunities online.