After a tornado struck Terrell’s neighboring East Texas town of Fruitvale, a group of Terrell High School students were eager to volunteer for the relief efforts. The team, led by THS Principal, Dr. Juan Solis, unloaded the bus on Saturday, May 6, and immediately got to work cleaning up debris, recovering lost and damaged personal belongings, and lending listening ears to community members impacted by the natural disaster.
For many of the student volunteers, this was their first time experiencing severe storm damage firsthand.
“Often times when these events occur, we only get to see it through the eyes of social media, but this experience gave me a new perspective of the travesty that occurred,” Elizabeth Martinez shared.
One particular story that resonated deeply with THS students is when a Fruitvale high school student began to cry when the students recovered a Mother’s Day letter she wrote in kindergarten. With each and every photograph and sentimental possession recovered, the students’ appreciation for all they had grew immensely.
“It was a very humbling experience to realize how blessed I am, and how we take simple things for granted like a roof over our head or a front door to our house,” Nathan Rogers said.
Dr. Solis shared that the experience was just as eye opening for him as it was his students, and emphasized the importance of volunteering your time and resources when someone else is in need.
“I am so extremely proud of my 31 kids that went to Fruitvale and helped our neighbors during a time of need. I think volunteering the time to help others is paramount for the development of our children,” Solis shared. “This is an experience my students and I will never forget.
At the end of a long day, the students boarded the bus and reflected on their time in Fruitvale. Terrell High School student, Christina Armendariz marveled at how the survivors of this travesty did not let it break their spirit.
“The tornado may have caused physical damage, but it did not damage the unity of the community,” Armendariz said.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with our friends in Fruitvale, as well as all of the Van Zandt County tornado victims. Your resilience and unity are an inspiration to our students and to our community.