Massachusetts college students help repair Kinston homes

Massachusetts college students help repair Kinston homes

Students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst took spring break in Lenoir County to help victims recover from damages caused by Hurricane Florence. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News

For 18 students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, spring break has a different meaning.

The group came to Eastern North Carolina recently to assist area residents affected by Hurricane Florence. First Presbyterian Church in Kinston housed the students at the Samaritan Inn when they came in Saturday, and after church the following day, they were guests at a barbecue dinner where the group was recognized by Lenoir County Board of Commissioners Chair Linda Rouse Sutton, First Presbyterian interim minister Rev. Eddie Bellis and representatives of the Kinston Area Recovery Efforts (KARE) group.

First Presbyterian is a Presbyterian Disaster Assistance site, which allows groups nationwide to come and assist. Program coordinator Katherine Harper said she appreciated the work the group has done, ranging from replacing floors, painting and maintenance.

“The person in charge of investigating mission trips at UMass Amherst found our site,” Harper said. “This is an awesome group of kids with great hearts. They’re one of the first teams working on Florence — we just finished with Matthew efforts last fall.”

Cameron Sanderson, a junior at UMass Amherst said the group was enthusiastic about assisting.

“The main reason why we’re here is because we want to lend a helping hand,” Sanderson said. “Spring break was the perfect time for us, and we knew there were a lot of people out here who were affected by the storm.”

Sophomore Kate Mallory shared similar sentiments.

“We knew that North Carolina was hit pretty hard from Florence, and felt like spring break would be much more rewarding helping to fix homes,” Mallory said.

KARE Construction Manager Ken Hare said the assistance was appreciated.

“We’re a long-term recovery service,” Hare said. “We don’t know the efforts needed until the insurance companies and FEMA come in. For those who don’t get as much help, we just want to come in and play our part.

For those looking to assist in relief efforts, contact Hare at 252-525-6139.

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