UNCP Students Engage in Service following Hurricane Florence

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Photo of service learning participants
Participants, from left to right, are UNCP students Jacy Dial and Leah Locklear, Rex-Rennert principal Nikki Brooks, Professor Deana Johnson, UNCP student Essence Floyd, and Professor Amy Williams. (Photo courtesy of Deana Johnson)

UNCP students made the best of a bad situation in the fall semester of 2018, following the many disruptions of Hurricane Florence.  For Rex-Rennert Elementary in Robeson County, the donations collected by the students in Deana Johnson’s composition classes and Amy Williams’ composition and freshman seminar classes certainly helped to make a bad situation better.

Johnson and Williams had originally planned for a reading/literacy event in September of 2018. Just one week before the scheduled event, Hurricane Florence swept through the area leaving behind some devastating consequences. 

Johnson and Williams still wanted to get students involved, so they approached their students with the idea of collecting donations for the elementary school instead.  Students responded enthusiastically, and in November, UNCP volunteers delivered a vanload of canned food, hygiene items, and school supplies. In total they collected more than 400 items to share with community members.

“We were disappointed when we could not host our service-learning project as originally planned, but we used this as an opportunity to let our students know that we could regroup and develop a new plan.  What makes the students’ contributions even more meaningful is that many of them suffered losses of their own during the storm, but they still made the effort to help others,” Johnson noted.    

Johnson and Williams were accompanied by Sandy Jacobs, Associate Director for Service-Learning in Community and Civic Engagement, Meghan Canady, Student Service Leader for Service-Learning, and UNCP students Leah Locklear, Essence Floyd and Jacy Dial.  The group delivered the donations to principal Nikki Brooks on November 9.   

Canady noted, “Serving schools in the community, such as Rex-Rennert, in various capacities has opened my eyes to so many needs that could go unnoticed.  Being able to commit my time to service for those who need it most has impacted my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined.”

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, our second hurricane in three years, we were all too familiar with the immediate needs of our community.  Our students stepped in and responded.  That’s what service-learning is all about,” stated Williams.