BLACKSBURG, Va. – Come Friday a group of Hokies will be heading to Letcher County, Kentucky to assist with cleanup efforts following deadly flooding in late July.
While in the state the students will “spend time mucking out houses, preparing food, organizing supplies for the community, and assisting with an Appalachian Roots Benefit Concert for flood relief,” according to a press release.
The group is spearheaded by Emily Satterwhite, an associate professor in the Department of Religion and Culture, who is co-teaching a societal health class.
“I want us to be in solidarity with them, not as people who are giving handouts or charity but people who know that with acceleration of climate change that we may also need help from neighbors,” Satterwhite said.
John Frazier is a junior at Virginia Tech and is enrolled in Satterwhite’s class. When the opportunity presented itself, Frazier wanted to volunteer.
“Being there in person and seeing things for yourself is obviously much different…I think what I’m most looking forward to is getting to connect with people in the community there,” Frazier said.
Satterwhite tells WSLS 10 there will be roughly 25 people going to help. They’ll also be bringing along some quilts that were tied by Danielle Christensen’s Folk Cultures in Appalachia course.
“Oh my goodness. I am so grateful to Dr. Danille Christensen and the Folk Cultures and Appalachia Class for taking the time to very quickly mobilize and create from scratch from scraps literally these quilts that we’ll be taking with us to give people comfort in Eastern Kentucky,” Satterwhite said.
Satterwhite herself has personal ties to the state of Kentucky.
“I was raised in Kentucky. I have close college friends from Letcher County where we’re headed. I’m impressed with the people on the ground there,” Satterwhite said.
Now she and her students will be on the grounds themselves helping. It ties back to the universities motto, Ut Prosim, translating to ‘That I may serve.’
“It’s not so much of a thing of ‘oh I feel good, I’m such a good person,’ I think it should be more viewed as like this is my responsibility to other human beings in my community,” Frazier said.
The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets will also be joining the cause. Satterwhite arranged to transport an additional 11 volunteers, with experiences ranging from CPR and first aid to disaster relief and construction.
With the trip just days away, the group is still needing more funding to help support additional goals of the Holler to Holler project. For more information regarding how to donate, visit the Appalachian Studies at Virginia Tech Facebook Page.