Social work student rallies donors to support those affected by U.S. tornadoes.
Published on: 03-05-2022
Bree Adams packed her small SUV full of backpacks and school supplies and began the drive from Collegedale, Tennessee, United States, to Mayfield, Kentucky. Adams, who is currently pursuing her master’s degree in social work at Southern Adventist University, was inspired to act after seeing firsthand the devastation caused by strong tornadoes in December 2021.
Shortly after the storms, Adams spent a week in Mayfield with 2Serve, a disaster response organization. The group cleared debris, cut up trees, tarped roofs, and distributed food. They focused on helping a lower-income community that had been hit especially hard and lacked the resources to recover.
Adams, who initially connected with 2Serve while earning her bachelor’s degree in social work at Southern, had previously participated in a 2018 university-sponsored trip to help with hurricane recovery in the Carolinas. She had also taken the opportunity to get Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training on campus. The trip to Mayfield was Adams’ fifth time participating in disaster response, and it had a profound impact on her.
“Seeing how the tornados took everything from these people was really heartbreaking,” Adams said. That’s why, when her week there was over, she decided she could do more to help.
During the trip, she had noticed that most of the school buildings had not been hit hard — meaning that classes would soon resume — yet many of the children had lost their belongings in the disaster and would be returning to school empty-handed. Adams was inspired to buy a few backpacks and school supplies and give them to a school in that community for whoever needed them.
Originally, she planned to donate five backpacks, but felt impressed to invite her family and friends to get involved. As word spread, donations and support began rolling in. She posted on social media, which led to several organizations offering to promote the cause or serve as drop-off locations for donations.
“Multiple people told me that they had been looking for a way to help out and that this cause was an answer to prayer,” Adams said.
She set a new goal of filling 100 backpacks with school supplies, but after surpassing 150, she realized she could not put a limit on what God can do. In January 2022, Adams was able to deliver 164 backpacks to a school in Mayfield.
“I don’t take any credit for what I did,” Adams said. “It was all God’s work; I was just boots on the ground.”
As a social worker, Adams plans to make serving others the focus of her career. Her classes and professors at Southern are equipping her with the skills she needs to be an effective and compassionate leader in the real world.
“We are incredibly proud of Bree! She really embodies the mission of our social work program,” SAU School of Social Work dean Laura Racovita said. “She has a heart for giving and a level of compassion that few have. Through this project, she saw a need and exceeded all expectations, making a tangible impact and helping to restore dignity to those affected by this disaster. Combining her skills and passion in partnership with a Higher Power, Bree will accomplish big things in life!”
Adams encourages everyone to find ways to make a difference: “If serving others is on your heart, God’s got a plan to make it happen.”