By Madisyn Kellough
Cheyenne Stanley has taken the week off of school, but is learning more than she ever could in a classroom. The South Carolina student has been helping victims of Columbia's historic flooding. Why? Because she wants to put her actions into words.
"You know, we're always talking about how we are the hands and feet of Christ, you know, and it's good to actually have the opportunity to come out and for it to not just be talk anymore and show in our actions," Stanley says.
Cheyenne is one of many volunteering for Operation Blessing, a nonprofit organization helping provide disaster relief. They have provided services to over thirty-seven different countries, traveling with trucks of supplies and a mobile command center. Now, they are in Columbia at Christian Life Church off Bush River Road.
The organization is focused on providing disaster relief but director Dan Moore says this requires more than just physical work from volunteers.
"We encourage them also to just take a minute and listen to that resident's story so they feel like they're not just another number or job we are sending volunteers to help out with," Moore explains.
So when volunteers showed up at sixty-six-year old Robert Hulbert's damaged home, they made sure he and his wife, Jan, felt both physical and emotional support. They got to know the couple and learned not only have they lost their home, but Hulbert is a navy veteran also battling leukemia. His immune system is too weak to ever move back in a home damaged by mold, let alone do anything to help repair it.
"This is a blessing, I wasn't expecting this at all. This has been amazing. I could never do one tenth of this work," Hulbert says.
Operation Blessing has surprised the couple, unexpectedly flooding into their home to gut ruined walls and to empty the house of all their belongings. With all of his memories and treasures strewn out in his yard, Hulbert admits he actually hasn't lost much. He still has his prize possession.
"I still have my wife, that's all that counts. The rest is just stuff...and stuff accumulates," Hulbert says as he looks towards the front of his house.
The volunteers are touching the lives of flood victims and spirits like Hulbert's are inspiring the volunteers.
"After six or so hours of work you start getting tired but their positive and your positive attitude come together and it's just a community effort," says Operations Blessing volunteer, Christopher Russel.
Operation Blessing is looking for volunteers over the age of eighteen. They will be stationed at Christian Life Church on Bush River Road until Saturday. Call 757-374-0944 for more information.