To answer the question: "What can we do to help," more than 50 Radford University students and staff members fanned out Monday, Jan. 20, into nearby communities for a Day of Service.
The volunteers reorganized library stacks, sorted clothes, processed food at food banks and helped build houses to begin RU's week-long campus commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy.
"There are no limitations on what we will do," said Ashley Poindexter, a sophomore from Botetourt County who is majoring in communication and marketing, as she and her teammates set about digging two-foot deep post holes in the frozen clay. "We will do it all. We are cool with whatever."
Poindexter and a dozen other students representing the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), Diversity Awareness Programming Board (DAP) and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) started their Spring 2014 semesters by helping Bill Warden, volunteer construction coordinator, build one of 18 houses that are part of the Pulaski Tornado Recovery project.
In their four-hour shift on an unseasonably pleasant January afternoon, the volunteers built a set of stairs, installed insulation in the house's crawl space and hauled and installed roofing shingles. To accomplish their various tasks, they dodged mud, broke fingernails and worked with unfamiliar tools, including a nail gun, posthole digger and heavy tamping bar.
Skye Hensley, a junior sociology major from Franklin County, spent her afternoon clambering up the ladder to deliver roofing shingles to fellow volunteers who spread and nailed them in place.
"The whole reason to be here is to help, she said. "I would like to think someone would help me if a disaster like this tornado happened to me."
At another house being built as part of the tornado recovery project, Darius Cureton, a counseling education graduate student from Monroe, N.C., was installing insulation and had to figure out how to load a heavy duty stapler.