Holland Patent high school's "Tornado Squad" headed to Alabama to help rebuild


HOLLAND PATENT, N.Y. (WKTV) - A group of students and staff from Holland Patent are traveling to Birmingham, Alabama for Spring Break to help Habitat for Humanity build and repair homes struck by tornadoes.

The group of 26 students and 4 adults call themselves the "Tornado Squad."

Holland Patent Substitute Teacher Eileen McCann says she came up with the idea with a friend, expecting to rent a mini-van with a handful of students, but after putting posters and announcements throughout the school, more than 30 students came to their first meeting.

"It floored us. It just blew us away," says McCann. "We couldn't believe that many kids were even interested in giving up their spring break and coming down and working their butts off."

During their April Spring Break, the students will travel to Birmingham by bus, with much of the city still devastated from a string of tornados that killed more than 200 people and damaged thousands of homes and businesses last spring.

Many students jumped at the opportunity to see a new place and help the struggling area out.

"Everything's not like central New York, you know, everything isn't all nice. We don't have tornadoes and stuff like that happening," says Holland Patent Junior Lauren Owens.

"It's going to look like a war zone and be a lot of debris, but I just look at it as a challenge, says Holland Patent Senior Michael Lynskey. "Let's get down there, build some houses, fix it up, give them a place to live."

The students will repair and construct homes alongside construction supervisors.

"When I talk to people, the most common response I get is, 'boy I've always wanted to do something like that,'" says McCann. "A lot of people would like to do something like that, but we're actually going to make it happen."

The Tornado Squad is trying to raise $15,000 to cover the bulk of transportation and food costs.

During the month of March, the group is collecting cans and bottles. You can drop off cans and bottles at the white truck on Park Ave in the Village of Holland Patent.

On March 18 from 5-8 p.m., there will be a Spaghetti Dinner at the American Legion-Roberts Post to help raise funds, with tickets running $5 per person.

On March 24 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., the group will hold a car wash at Adirondack Cheese on Route 12 in Barneveld.

Also on March 24, the students are holding an "Adi-Rock-N-Bowl" from 9-11 p.m. at Adirondack Lanes in Barneveld. That event is for Holland Patent students only.

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