After July’s catastrophic floods in eastern Kentucky left many families without homes and belongings, students at the Jackson County Area Technology Center (ATC) sprang into action thinking of ways they could help.
Marvin Wilder, a wood product manufacturing instructor at the ATC, decided to bring a trailer full of water and bleach for cleaning to those impacted. However, when he saw a family living under a tarp in Letcher County, he and his students came up with the idea to build shelters so people would have a place to store their remaining belongings.
“Everything this family had was washed away, gone. It was sad,” said Wilder. “I told my students about the devastation and they wanted to know what they could do to help. They came up with the idea to build shelters for people to put their belongings in, and we sketched out an 8 by 16 foot shed,” said Wilder.
Jackson County ATC Principal Lonzo Moore said about 150 to 200 students are lending a helping hand.
“Every class has been working on this from beginners to seniors. Both carpentry and wood manufacturing students are working on this every day. They finished the first [shed] in about four days and we are hoping the next one will go even quicker,” said Moore.
Due to the smaller size, the sheds are able to fit on a trailer attached to Wilder’s truck, and they will be delivered to families for free by Wilder himself.
Carpentry instructor Gerald Maupin said he and the students built the first shed as a prototype, which is on display for people to see the work the students are doing. Not only do the sheds provide storage for those in need, but the project gives students hands-on experience and skills for the future.
“The students are building everything themselves. This is real work in real time and students have to figure out materials, size the materials because we are buying everything as cheap as we can,” said Maupin.
Maupin also said with Jackson County being a rural area, they don’t have the infrastructure or industry to consistently support programs like carpentry and wood manufacturing.
“To be able to have a project like this where we can continue to build one after another is great,” he said. “The students are excited about it because they are able to give back to people who have lost everything. I told them it’s an opportunity for people in eastern Kentucky to help people in eastern Kentucky, and I think it’s fantastic.”
The students are planning to build at least six sheds but are hoping to receive monetary donations to build even more. The sheds cost approximately $2,500 each and Wilder said so far, they have the funding to build two more.
Noah Weaver, a junior at Jackson County ATC, said this project is not just another school assignment, but an opportunity to give back to neighbors in need.
“It’s great, I mean I usually do this every day. We usually take on little things, but this – this has got to be at the top of the list,” Weaver said.
Other students said they are happy to be a part of the project and hope others would do the same for them if they were in this situation.
“I’m hoping this project will inspire other ATCs to build sheds for people in need. Our students are willing to go to these areas at their own expense on the weekends to build them from the ground up. There are a lot of people who need these,” said Wilder.
Maupin’s daughter set up a GoFundMe page, where all donations will go toward supplies.