Sunflowers and teen volunteers visit Beauregard tornado survivors this summer

Local News

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (WRBL) – Sunflowers drew News 3 to Beauregard after a woman posted on Beauregard Strong’s Facebook page with a picture of a sunflower and an inspiring story.

The woman shared how the tornado scattered a 40-pound bag of sunflower seeds from her mom’s storage shed. Now, random pops of yellow are growing along Highway 51, and other areas of the storm-ravaged community.

The unexpected beauty is providing much-needed cheer for survivors who regularly see piles of storm debris and devastation. Nearly four months after the deadly March 3rd tornadoes that claimed the lives of 23 men, women and children; the rebuilding process has slowed.

News 3’s Elizabeth White was trying to interview the woman who shared the lovely story and pictures of the sunflowers. However, the woman was out of town. We hope to speak with her soon. Elizabeth also failed to get any interviews from survivors who were enjoying a random sunflower or two, growing in their yards.

However, just like those scattered seeds, our visit to Beauregard took an unexpected turn in a beautiful way.

A worker cleaning up debris told Elizabeth there was a church youth group working at a home along Lee Road 721.

We learned the group with Gordo First United Methodist Church drove nearly four hours from Pickens County to volunteer and they were more than happy to share their mission with a local tv reporter.

“We are working with Alabama Rural Ministry in disaster response after the tornadoes of the spring. We are working on vinyl siding today; if we don’t get done with it, we will do it tomorrow. If we do, we will move onto something else,” shared Pastor Marvin McCormick.

The group of teens, their pastor, and other adult mentors are spending a week in the blistering heat to help clean up.

“Anything they need help on, we are just helping them out. It feels good. We like to help and spread God’s word in how we work,” shared teen volunteer Braden Bridges.

The Church group is staying at a church in Tuskegee during the week, driving into Beauregard daily to help.

“It’s just terrible what these people went through. When you drive in, you can see where the storm went. I can’t imagine going through something like that,” shared teen volunteer Maddie Sharp.

The teens say spending a week, helping others during the summer makes them feel fulfilled, being the hands and feet of Jesus.

“It’s just nice to give back to those who have been through this tragic situation,” said teen volunteer Mallory Hardy.

Pastor McCormick says the volunteer work teaches the youth group to look outside themselves, and serving others is what God calls us to do.

“We talked about the difference between a task and a mission. A task is to replace siding or build a deck, but the mission is to let people know God loves them, and we love them,” shared Pastor McCormick.

We have heard time and again – rebuilding is a marathon, not a sprint. Many survivors are frustrated and exhausted, rightfully so. Volunteers, like Gordo First United Methodist Church’s youth group, are doing their best to make sure families don’t feel forgotten.

The group’s lunchtime devotional focused on God’s powerful presence during tough situations. Beauty can be found after the storm, in a random sunflower or a helping hand from a volunteer, when you need it the most.

For more information on volunteer opportunities in Beauregard, you can visit Alabama Rural Ministry’s website.

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