Local teens help with Joplin clean up

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) –While many teens spend the summer working, going to camp or spending time with friends one group volunteered to also help in rebuilding lives in the devastated community of Joplin.

"Destruction was everywhere.  Debris, rubble, houses completely gone," said teen volunteer Ryan Johnson.

A group of ten volunteers from South Caraway Baptist Church spent six days helping out.

"We crossed over what was kind of like an invisible boundary and there were houses to the ground just foundations only fire places standing," said Allison Blackman.

"If you just looked down the street as you could see there were just torn down houses, torn down trees," said Chucks Ota.

The group spent the last week in Joplin.  What they found when they arrived was nothing like what they expected.

"I didn't realize it is still so bad.  I didn't realize that they still need so much help," said Jordan Gragg.

The volunteers worked wherever they were needed and they did it as a team.

"We just asked them, 'Hey, we've got ten guys.  Do you want help,' and they were so grateful for us and we worked for about five hours on their houses," said Johnson.

The teens say they drove around Joplin for hours taking in the broken homes, churches and even the school.  When they saw people outside working they would stop and volunteer.

"We saw this intense hurt and pain in an area so close to us and we wanted to get out there," said Gragg.

The experience has changed the way the kids look at their lives.

"I can't tell you how many times I cried or how many times I just sat back and contemplated how blessed I was," said Blackman.

While they all worked hard and left a visible change on the community the community also left an impact on the volunteers.

"The people of Joplin had a larger impact on us by far than we had on them," said Gragg.

Youth Director Caleb Gragg said there was another Jonesboro youth group in Joplin at the same time.  While they were there, hundreds of other volunteers were also on the ground helping out.

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