LU Send Now Team Brings Hope to California Fire Victims

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In Redding, Calif., a team of three Liberty University students and one staff member have done more than meet the physical needs of residents and first responders affected by the one of the largest fires in state history. The team members have also offered a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear.

“It is sad and sobering for these residents. They have lost everything, even the little things they will discover from day-to-day moving forward, like when they go to brush their teeth and there's no toothbrush or realizing they have no other clothes to change into."

In Redding, Calif., a team of three Liberty University students and one staff member have done more than meet the physical needs of residents and first responders affected by the one of the largest fires in state history. The team members have also offered a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear.

“We’ve gone right up to the sites of homes that have been completely destroyed,” said Holly Griswold, associate director of LU Send Now. “It is sad and sobering for these residents. They have lost everything, even the little things they will discover from day-to-day moving forward, like when they go to brush their teeth and there's no toothbrush or realizing they have no other clothes to change into. More importantly, they are looking in the ashes for keepsakes that represent memories or family heirlooms — it's hard, they are processing what just happened.”

The team, which was dispatched by LU Send Now, the university’s disaster relief initiative, arrived in California on Aug. 12 and will return on Sunday. They are working with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) to help provide food and water to relief workers, assist with medical response, and pray with fire victims.

The Carr Fire began in mid-July and has displaced 30,000 people, destroyed more than 1,000 residences, and killed eight people. As of Friday morning, the fire was 75 percent contained. Griswold said in the short time they’ve been there, the team has spoken with nearly 75 residents.

“Many just want to talk about what they’ve experienced,” she said. “They’re grieving. We had one resident stop us and ask if he could eat lunch with us and talk. There was another who waved down our car as we were driving. We talked to a police officer who lost his home and has been living in his Jeep.”

Griswold said it has been a joy to work alongside the RRT and be able to bring hope to those struggling to cope with the tragedy.

“LU Send Now has thus far existed as humanitarian disaster relief,” she said. “As we meet tangible needs, this year we’re also providing trips that primarily focus on psychological and spiritual aid for emotional support. Both are so important in the healing process and complement each other.”

LU Send Now mobilizes students and staff to respond to immediate needs nationally and abroad. Over the past academic year, teams were dispatched for relief work in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria’s devastation as well as to other areas affected by deadly hurricanes, including Texas and the Caribbean. Liberty recently provided shelter and supplies locally to flood victims.

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Len Stevens
Liberty University
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