Lee reaches out into the cold to help the community

Rebecca Coram, Staff Writer

Lee students and faculty were called to action due to freezing temperatures to start a temporary cold shelter for homeless people in Cleveland.

According to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency as of Feb. 27 there have been 30 confirmed deaths because of weather related causes in Tennessee. However, with the help of the cold shelters provided around town Cleveland has not contributed to that number.

Lee students Andy Webb and Blake Rafferty devised a plan to provide shelter for homeless people with the help of Professor Allan Wheeler and Dr. Arlie Tagayuna in North Cleveland Church of God's gymnasium.

'We don't want what happened in Chattanooga happen here,' Tagayuna said.

Students and faculty divided responsibilities between contacting shelters, finding homeless people and providing food and blankets. Professor Wheeler emailed administration, Rafferty contacted the Leonard Center, Webb went to North Cleveland Church of God and Lee student Brad LaChapell assisted in coordinating volunteers to drive different routes and locations throughout Cleveland to find homeless residents.

'It was crazy how everything fell into place, and everyone we talked to was on board with everything. Then the community at Lee and [North Cleveland Church of God] really came through with donations and food,' Webb said. 'It was awesome to see God being faithful to our obedience.'

Within the first three hours of opening, the shelter already received a number of donations from the community. A local company donated 30 mattresses, food and blankets were being provided and people were knitting blankets, scarves and hats.

'This experience gave me great hope for the body of Christ,' LaChapell said. 'This showed that so many people are willing to serve in whatever way they are able. It only took a matter of hours to coordinate everything and bring everyone together for this cause. I now know the potential we have here.'

Tagayuna was overwhelmed with the amount of compassion and dedication shown by Lee students as they engaged the QEP aspect of global citizenship and service.

'We were not part of an organization or club. We just wanted to follow Christ and obey his commandments,' Webb said. 'Service isn't always a set time or planned event. It's meeting the needs in your community whether they be emotional, physical or spiritual.'

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