Story by Salena Featherstone
Hurricanes were particularly destructive in the U.S. last year. Places such as Texas, Puerto Rico and some of the U.S. Virgin Islands experienced overwhelming devastation. So Takoma Academy (TA) sprang into action.
TA families collected more than 1,700 toiletry items for hurricane survivors in an initiative appropriately called the “Fall Survive and Thrive Drive.” Shari Loveday, TA’s chaplain, also organized a mission trip to an immigrant community in Houston for students to not only see the impact of the items they collected but to also help survivors physically rebuild.
“We had no idea that this year we would need to bring the drive back,” Loveday shares. “But we have realized our Survive and Thrive Drive is an integral part of our school’s commitment to be the hands and feet of Jesus.” Now, the drive has become TA’s annual fall project.
TA included a local component to the drive as well. They partnered with Adventist Community Services Greater Washington Area to donate food to Montgomery County families experiencing hunger. TA collected enough food to feed 26 families for Thanksgiving, enabling them to spend the holiday in their own homes rather than standing in line at a shelter or food program.
In addition to food donations, parents, students, faculty and staff donated more than 700 toiletry items for hurricane survivors in Florida. From toothpaste, toothbrushes and feminine hygiene products to soap, detergent, shampoo and conditioner, TA sought to provide those who had lost so much with the things often taken for granted.
TA students and faculty also volunteered at A Wider Circle (Md.), an organization that provides necessities to families transitioning out of homeless situations or who are simply struggling to make ends meet. Students helped sort goods such as bedding, furniture, blankets and clothing, then moved those items to the warehouse floor and packaged them for families in need.
Loveday believes service extends far and wide, but that community service must take place near home. She asks, “How else will our neighbors feel the impact of Christ’s love?”