Volunteering with Samaritan's Purse: tips and thoughts from my first time volunteering

Volunteering with Samaritan's Purse: tips and thoughts from my first time volunteering

Hey Renie and Advancement folks,

I had the privilege of volunteering with Samaritan’s Purse yesterday and wanted to provide tips in case anyone is interested in volunteering with this awesome organization.    It seems their focus is debris clean-up and placing tarps on roofs. This is heavy duty/hard core work and I would suggest wearing long sleeves.  I know it’s hot but the limbs/logs/debris that you will be clearing will scrape/cut your arms.  Bring good work gloves and I also suggest sunglasses or safety glasses because of the dust/debris that comes along with this work.  Make sure you have an updated tetanus shot.  I used the Samford Student Health Services (call for an appointment first) and it was $47.00 and I was out of there in less than 10 minutes.  Many folks are getting scraped, cut, stepping on nails because debris is everywhere so I would strongly recommend this.  This is physical work so just be aware that you’ll be lifting, carrying, dragging, bending down and twisting A LOT….I guess this explains my soreness today.  Also bring a GPS device or your IPhone, if you have one available to access directions to the location you’ll be working at. They encourage carpooling and we tried to caravan to our site but we were in the middle of Birmingham morning rush hour and it was difficult so thankful for technology to find our location.

They are always in need of folks that can bring/operate chainsaws BUT YOU MUST HAVE appropriate safety items such as a chain break on the saw, chaps, hats/hard hat, safety glasses and ear protection.

Samaritan’s Purse WILL NOT allow you to operate a chainsaw without these safety measures. 

Yesterday our crew worked in the Smithfield Estates subdivision(specifically Leola Avenue) which is right off of I-65 North….  I’m not an expert but just looking at the damage it seems that it’s the same tornado that tracked from Tuscaloosa, Pleasant Grove and through this area toward Fultondale.  There’s no other way to say it other than it’s rough to see…and be prepared to work.  I did wear my Samford Gives Back T-shirt but changed into the Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief T-shirt when they gave these out.  Our area was closed off and the National Guard had 3 armed officers at a checkpoint.  They allowed us into this area based on our shirts so I just wanted to point this out.  The Red Cross and Salvation Army has stations in this community also and were both serving hot meals and had stacks of bottled water and other items to distribute to the residents.

The homeowners are SO appreciative and kind.  Every home that is worked on by Samaritan’s Purse receives a Billy Graham Bible but the cool thing is, we all sign this and write notes of encouragement or our favorite Bible verses.  I feel so blessed just to be able to help in some small way and am so thankful to work at this great place who allows us to be paid and go out and volunteer.  A BIG thanks to our administration!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Our Samford Alums are out volunteering also as I had the pleasure to meet and work with David & Julie Lee (’08 Nursing alums) and alum and part-time staff from Prep. Music, Alyson(I think this is her name).  Most of the Samaritan’s Purse volunteers are from out of state.  I had the pleasure of working alongside folks from Wisconsin and North Carolina and keep in mind, they are sleeping in cots at Garywood Assembly of God or roughing it by sleeping in Tents in an adjacent field….the Body of Christ has stepped up and it is humbling and so joyful to see!!

So if you’d like to volunteer:   Samaritan's Purse/Mission Birmingham  will continue to send daily teams every weekday from 7 am and 1 pm….they also send out teams on Saturday at 7:00am and Sunday afternoon at 1:00pm.
(This is the group that meets at Garywood Assembly of God at 2730 Allison-Bonnet Memorial Drive, Hueytown, 35023)  The local number to reach them at Garywood is: 205-441-2164.  They don’t have voicemail set up.  You basically show up around 7:00 or so and fill out brief paperwork, then go to the dining area to hear a brief talk on safety protocol.  Then, you’re divided up or placed on teams. You have a meeting with your team leader who gives you the address that you’ll be working at and then go to work.



Christy Allen 

University Advancement 


The following websites are for state or local organizations that may be coordinating disaster response efforts:


Philip Poole
Executive Director of Marketing and Communication