All hands and all Dogs were on deck Saturday as Louisiana Tech students, the campus community, and many University friends, businesses, and organizations pitched in to pick up storm debris and encourage each other during Tech’s Big Event.
Organized by the Tech Student Government Association (SGA), the Big Event is an annual volunteer project that became bigger and more needed because an EF-3 tornado early Thursday morning caused severe damage to the campus and Ruston.
“A lot of progress was made today in clearing debris from our campus thanks to an army of enthusiastic volunteers, a battalion of the National Guard, a fleet of lift trucks, a Cajun Navy, Farm Bureau providing food, and a special Mailman (Tech alum Karl Malone) driving a Cat,” said Tech President Dr. Les Guice on his Facebook page, where he’s been even more of a presence than usual since the storm. “Thanks to everyone who made the sacrifices to make this an impactful day of recovery for our Tech Family.”
Supplies for the event were provided with the first disbursement from the Louisiana Tech University Foundation fund designated for storm recovery and a generous donation from Lowe’s Home Improvement.
“Our alumni and friends have been incredibly generous since the storm plowed through the Louisiana Tech campus,” said Brooks Hull, vice president for University Advancement. “For example, when we needed water for our volunteers, CenturyNext Bank, Origin Bank, Pearce Lumber, Rolling Hills Ministries, and Super 1 Foods stepped forward. Domangue’s and Fuqua Paper provided serving and cleanup supplies.
“As we continue the cleanup and rebuilding process, we will continue to rely on our community partners and members of the Tech Family for their guidance and support. Their leadership will help strengthen Tech for generations to come.”
The College of Applied and Natural Sciences and Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation cooked burgers and served to anyone who wished to eat lunch at Argent Pavilion.
The list of volunteers is long, and 1,200 is a conservative estimate of how many students worked Saturday.
“We had volunteers from as far away as New Orleans and DFW come to feed students, first responders, and work crews in the area,” Guice said.
Dawn Ward, whose husband Ken took an engineering class taught by Guice long ago, drove over from Shreveport with her three sons so they could help Saturday. Courtney Wessels, who studies industrial engineering at Tech, said she was “in complete awe” since Thursday morning of “how willing our community is to serve.”
Probably no illustration was stronger of teamwork during the cleanup than the dozen-plus students who walked toward a debris pile with a 20-foot tree trunk on their shoulders.
“I think there’s a lot of hope we can take away from this (experience), just seeing how the community is rallying together,” said SGA president Matt Flynn.
Donations continued to arrive throughout the day. Keri Spivey Anderson, mother of Tech softball player Kailey Anderson, gathered supplies from her co-workers at Texas Oncology, the Dallas Strikers softball team where Kailey coaches in the summer, and Kailey’s former high school, Mesquite High. She delivered them on her way to cheer on the Lady Techsters softball team in Monroe.
Monetary donations were encouraged and accepted in Houston from Conference USA member Rice, Tech’s host for a three-game set of baseball games this weekend. Other universities providing volunteer support included Grambling State University and the University of Louisiana – Monroe. ULM’s softball facility also served as the home field for the Lady Techster softball team this weekend.
If you would like to help with relief efforts but can’t be in Ruston to volunteer, please donate at ltu.al/disasterrelief.
Other businesses and individuals making donations of time, necessities, or resources for Saturday’s event:
- Tri-Sigma – Northwestern State University
- First National Bank
- Lincoln Builders
- Pafford EMS
- Will Baker
- Colin Pringle
- Kenny Waldrop
- Johnny’s – Sterlington
- Uptown Downtown
- Crumbs Catering
- Social Bites
- Brister’s Smokehouse
- Beau Vines
- Cajun Navy of Northwest Louisiana
- Sweetwater Baptist Church
- Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity
- Fairway Carts
- Little India of Monroe