Students on Spring Break Repair Homes Damaged by Hurricane Harvey

April 6, 2018 • United States

Students from more than a dozen colleges and universities spent their spring breaks in Texas rebuilding homes through Samaritan’s Purse.

After traveling more than a thousand miles in the back of a large van, U.S. Air Force Academy cadets were glad to pile out and start enjoying their spring break near the Texas coast.

Homeowner Cindy Brookes says she "just can't believe so many students would give up their spring break to help the people of Texas."

Homeowner Cindy Brookes says she “just can’t believe so many students would give up their spring break to help the people of Texas.”

But they hadn’t come to improve their tans at the beach. Instead, this group of students had arrived to work on a hurricane-damaged home in Rockport, Texas.

These Air Force cadets were just a few of the nearly 400 students from more than a dozen colleges and universities who chose to spend time volunteering with Samaritan’s Purse this spring. We have committed to help rebuild 500 homes in southeast Texas, and, in recent weeks, students have composed large numbers of our volunteer teams.

Homeowners expressed astonishment at the number of college students willing to spend a week doing the less-than-glamorous labor of helping storm victims. Air Force cadet Jen Petty said serving people in need is something the Academy instills in its cadets—and, for Christian students, service is an act of love and obedience to Christ.

“I think the verse ‘Whatever you’ve done for the least of these, you’ve done for me’ is a good verse to sum up why we’re here,” she said, referencing Matthew 25:40.

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Among the cadets were future aerospace engineers, strike command analysts, pilots, and combat systems officers.

Air Force cadet Reagan Underland believes her work in Texas with Samaritan’s Purse fits in with her calling to serve people in need around the world, whether flying to defend freedom or getting dirty to bless homeowners.

“You’re doing tangible work that actually makes a difference in someone’s life,” she said.

Giving What They Can

While Air Force cadets worked in Rockport, students from the Virginia Military Institute repaired floors and walls at a home in Portland, Texas. Senior Mark Persinger is scheduled to commission as an Army infantry officer this year, and for his spring break he wanted to do what he does best—work with his hands to serve others.

“I wanted to use my time better than just going home and reading,” he said. “And helping other people is just part of who I am. It’s part of why I joined the United States Army. I enjoy it. It’s what I’m good at, and I feel it’s what God has called me to do.”

During the same week in late March, students affiliated with the parachurch group Cru came from Eastern Washington University to serve in the Lone Star State near Pearland, in the Houston area.


EWU student Max Batali came to know Christ as his Lord and Savior about a year ago. He was excited to serve people in Jesus’ Name through the Houston rebuild project this spring.

“Coming here and giving back to the community for the Lord is amazing,” he said. “It’s good work that we’re doing here.”

The Cru crew demolished an entire section of house damaged by Harvey—a cracked and sinking foundation had been discovered after the storm passed over.

“I thought this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help out people in need,” said EWU nursing student Emma Pickett, who wheeled loads of old bricks to a dumpster. “I don’t have a lot to give but I can give my availability, and I don’t think there’s anything else I’d rather do during spring break.”

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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