There is a need for houses to be built in Joplin, Mo., and those in the Southwestern Community College carpentry and building trades program in Osceola are aiming to fill that need. But first, they need their own local support.
"We've been invited back to Joplin this year," said Charlie Mundy, Osceola tech prep carpentry instructor for SWCC. "That's what we're raising money for. It's for these guys to be able to take a trip. It goes into a carpentry fund, and we've been to Texas and Louisiana. Last year, we went to Joplin. The people called this year, and they're wanting us to come back really bad."
The program's first fundraiser of the year is their annual chili cook-off Nov. 2. It will be held at the SWCC center in Osceola.
Students will make chili and people may vote on the winner There are trophies for first- and second-place. The meal is a free-will donation.
The chili starts at 5:30 p.m., and at 7 p.m., there's a baked-goods auction.
Mundy said many of students' grandparents bring cakes and pies for the auction.
Another fundraiser will be held Dec. 6. It is a spaghetti dinner at Hy-Vee. No time has been scheduled yet.
If the students raise more money than needed for the trip, it still goes back into the program's carpentry fund.
The trip to Joplin, Mo., will take place during Clarke Community High School's spring break in March. High-school students in the program consist of Clarke and Central Decatur students.
"They're giving up their free time," Mundy said.
Currently, there are only male students in the program, However, Mundy said two to three girls are usually in the program each year, and he's hoping more join in the coming years.
Carpentry help from the students is needed in Joplin, Mo.
On May 22, 2011, an EF5 tornado struck Joplin, Mo., and reached a maximum width of more than 1 mile. It was the deadliest tornado in America since 1947 with 158 people killed by the tornado and approximately 1,000 injured.
Nearly 7,000 houses were destroyed, including many that were flattened or blown away. More than 850 houses were damaged.
Last year, students in the program built two houses in one week.
"The people there were just amazed by the amount of work that the kids did, and it's a good opportunity for these guys to be leaders," Mundy said. "... It's a pretty good deal and it's kind of neat that these guys get the respect that they sometimes don't get."
While the students are gearing up for their trip in March, they are also working on building a house on Wildflower Drive. The house-completion date is set for the end of the school year in May.
According to Mundy, it's important to help rebuild a community after a tornado, because it shows students it could happen to anyone, even in Osceola.
"Literally, that tornado just cut a three-mile path right down the middle of town, or whatever it was. That could happen to any of us," he said. "I think it brings the reality of, you know, 'maybe my life here in Osceola is not quite so bad.' I think that it brings it a little more home to them. But, it also shows them that the skills they're learning here, even as young people, are valuable. That's kind of my biggest thing. It allows them to see that firsthand."