Serving Without a Catch

March 26, 2014 • United States

A North Carolina winter storm victim is impressed by the generosity of Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief volunteers.

The first tree sounded like a car crash when it hit the ground. The tall pine tumbled into the street, waking both 39-year-old Sasha Bagdasarov and his neighbor. The second tree was even larger. When it fell in Sasha’s yard, he said it felt like an earthquake was erupting all around him.

“This is just crazy,” he said. “This is the craziest thing that has ever happened here. It felt like the end of the world was happening.”

Sasha, a filmmaker, said the area hadn’t had an ice storm since 2003. Even then, it wasn’t anywhere close to the amount of damage caused by the winter storm that hit High Point, N.C., and surrounding cities on March 6.

“You could hear the trees cracking all over,” he said. “Pop. Pop. Pop. Just like popcorn.”

The downed tree lay across the length of his yard. Sasha didn’t know how he’d remove it on his own. He and his friend had handled a few smaller broken limbs with little handsaws, but the trunk of this tree was so thick it would be a struggle even for a chainsaw to cut through.

The tree that fell in his yard was so big that Sasha could not have cut it up and removed it himself.

The tree that fell in his yard was so big that Sasha could not have cut it up and removed it himself.

The only thing Sasha did know was that he couldn’t afford to hire someone. He said at least three different contractors approached him about his yard, but they all claimed the job would cost at least $2,000.

He was in the process of remodeling his home and didn’t have the extra money to hire any help. He figured he was stuck figuring out how to take care of it on his own.

Samaritan’s Purse responded to the winter storm that devastated parts of the state by deploying disaster relief units to High Point and Burlington. Volunteers began helping homeowners with tree and debris removal.

When a Samaritan’s Purse volunteer drove through Sasha’s neighborhood and saw the huge tree lying in the front lawn, he let him know there was a team nearby who would be more than willing to help.

Sasha found it hard to believe that anyone, let alone strangers and people from out of town, would be willing to help someone like him for free. Even the friends he told about the crew coming to his house were skeptical.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” he said. “You show me something that’s free (and it has to have a) catch. It’s a sad fact.”

But there wasn’t a catch. Every year Samaritan’s Purse sends disaster relief volunteers throughout the country to serve homeowners after a disaster strikes, picking up the pieces of their yards and their lives, and being the hands and feet of Christ to help victims in any way they can.

Volunteers completed the task of removing tree limbs and debris from Sasha's yard in a couple of hours.

Volunteers completed the task of removing tree limbs and debris from Sasha’s yard in a couple of hours.

When a crew of orange shirt-wearing volunteers showed up on a cold, misty morning, Sasha was blown away. Not only was he already surprised about the free help, but he couldn’t believe we had showed up so soon. Even Sasha’s 62-year-old neighbor, Jarrell Boyd, was impressed and walked over to see what was going on.

“I thought he had hired someone, but when I came over, he said they were doing it for free,” Jarrell said. “I tell you what. It’s a good thing. It’s a very good thing.”

The crew picked up fallen limbs and cut up the gigantic tree, completing the job in only a couple of hours. It was their servant hearts and strong work ethic that ministered to the two men as they witnessed each volunteers’ willingness to serve in the cold, damp weather for someone they didn’t know at no cost.

“There are a lot of people who can’t afford to hire a crew and do things like [cutting up fallen trees],” Sasha said. “There’s no way they could do it. There’s no way. It’s awesome [these volunteers] exist.”

Whether working in the aftermath of a disaster or rebuilding a home or church, Samaritan’s Purse volunteers serve in the Name of Jesus Christ. Find out about our current opportunities.

U.S. Disaster Relief Samaritan's Purse mobilizes and equips thousands of disaster relief volunteers to provide emergency aid to U.S. victims of wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In the aftermath of major storms, we often stay behind to rebuild houses for people with nowhere else to turn for help.

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