From Catastrophe to Comfort

Volunteers chopped firewood for the needy

34 Needy Families Will Stay Warm this Winter Thanks to Disaster Clean-up

When Hurricane Michael uprooted huge trees at Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, the campus was left choked with debris. The college wanted to donate the lumber as firewood for local families, but was unable to provide resources for splitting, stacking, or transporting the wood.

Mike Stallings, manager of construction at the Farmville district office, learned about the predicament and jumped at the chance to get his employees involved. “I knew these guys would want the opportunity to give back to the community,” he said.

The crew of nine employees and contractors sprang into action, volunteering their own equipment and an entire day of back-breaking labor: chopping, splitting, and stacking dozens of cords of firewood.

“We knew we were gonna have some sore back muscles the next day, but we turned it into a competition to see which of us could create the biggest pile by the end of the day,” said Mike Harvanek, the team’s supervisor.

Afterward, local churches and residents with pick-up trucks drove away with nearly 50 loads of prepared firewood, enough to provide 34 needy families in the community with a free heat source.

This isn’t the first time that the close-knit group of 25-30 employees in the office has helped turn a disaster into a positive outcome. After the Appomattox tornadoes devastated the community in 2016, the crew salvaged the damaged utility poles and transformed them into two batting cages for the local high school, saving the school thousands of dollars in materials and labor.

Farmville Firewood

Volunteers chopped firewood for 34 needy families in the Farmville community