After an EF-2 tornado struck Central Virginia on April 15, the Lynchburg College community sprung to action, helping with relief efforts.
Minutes after the tornado hit, devastating portions of Campbell County, the City of Lynchburg, and Amherst County, Lynchburg’s varsity baseball team met to figure out how they could help. By the following afternoon, about a dozen Hornets, led by assistant coach Jeremy Sink, were in Amherst County.
In the hard-hit community of Elon, the team cleaned up debris and salvaged family heirlooms. In one case, a lost military uniform was returned to its owner. “It just showed the sense of community that we have here at Lynchburg,” pitcher Noah Winslow ’20 said.
Service is one of the character pillars that Lucas Jones ’05 set in place during his first year as Lynchburg’s head baseball coach. “Coach is always talking about how things are bigger than you,” Winslow said. “Baseball is just a game, and when you leave the field it’s all about the real world. That’s a real-world example of how there’s more to life than sports.”
The varsity softball team also pitched in, donating items toward storm-relief efforts. “We collected items as a team and we also went out to Walmart to purchase supplies we knew some of the families needed,” head coach Dawn Simmons ’97 said.
Simmons added that team member Stephanie Hogan ’20, who is from Amherst County, identified some of the families in need and delivered supplies with her family.
The softball team from Emory & Henry College, which played Lynchburg shortly after the storm, also contributed. “The coaching staff at E&H had sent me a text checking in to see if we were okay and if there was anything they could do to help,” Simmons said. “We shared what we knew with them and they put together supplies and brought them on their trip to play us.”
Greek life organizations band together
Thirty-three students from the College’s Greek life organizations — specifically, members of Sigma Nu, Sigma Sigma Sigma, and Alpha Chi Omega — volunteered to help with tornado-relief efforts in the City of Lynchburg and Amherst County.
Dr. William Wells, principal of Amherst County High School and a 2014 graduate of Lynchburg’s Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies program, said the volunteer effort actually began in March. That was when Cameron Short ’21, an Amherst County High School graduate and member of Sigma Nu, contacted him about service opportunities at the school.
“We initially set a date of April 29 for them to come to the school and work on various school-related projects,” Dr. Wells wrote in a letter to Lynchburg College. “When the tornado … struck the area, I reached out to Cameron and asked if they would rather work in the community to help victims of the storm.”
According to Dr. Wells, Short reached out to Sigma Nu member Sam Wilkins ’19, who organized the relief effort. On April 29, the students fanned out, some working in the Link Road area of Lynchburg and others in the Elon and Wares Gap communities of Amherst County. They cleaned up debris, recovered lost belongings, and donated food, clothing, and $170 in cash to local nonprofit Gleaning for the World for their relief efforts.
“Sam was the organizing force at Lynchburg College that pulled the student volunteers together to make this a successful event,” Dr. Wells wrote. “Sam and the other students should be commended for the support of the community and their commitment to service. I am extremely pleased to know that we still have young men and women who are willing to sacrifice their time and support the greater good in the community.”
Nearly $10K collected on Give Day for tornado relief
Lynchburg College held its annual Give Day on April 18, three days after the storm. During the event, members of the Lynchburg family were given the opportunity to designate donations for tornado relief. Nearly $10,000 was collected for this purpose.
About $1,000 of these funds were used by Lynchburg’s chapter of Mu Iota Alpha Phi Omega, a coed service fraternity, to buy essential items — diapers, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, etc. — for families affected by the storm. The items were given to Gleaning for the World for distribution.
“A graduating senior and member of Mu Iota APO, Jennifer Light, completed her internships hours for her major at Gleaning for the World during the spring semester,” Chris Gibbons, director of community involvement at Lynchburg, said. “She played a huge part in assisting in organizing all of the donations, including our donations, and helping to distribute them.”
The College is currently working with area nonprofits who are serving those most affected by the storm to distribute the remaining Give Day funds.