More Tennessee Valley helpers head north - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

More Tennessee Valley helpers head north

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CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) -- A lot of people may have moved on from talking about hurricane Sandy's destruction, but local volunteers are still helping folks in the northeast.

Despite their age, seniors Jim and Betty Sneed of Bradley County are among many people from their church organization to see Sandy's devastation first hand.

"People come off the street and say can you help us? Can you get somebody over to work on our house? We can't get in it," recalls Betty as she holds back tears.

The 83-year-old and her husband Jim, 76, have been volunteering for many years.

For two weeks the Sneeds offered comfort through their faith, and through the Bradley Baptist Association they helped clean up the clean-up crews on Long Island. They manned and sanitized the organization's shower/laundry trailer. It contains four private showers and two pairs of washer and dryers.

"So when they come back to get ready to go again we give them showers and do their laundry and put them back on a fresh day the next day," explains Jim.

Through donations the organization covers some expenses, but the Sneeds drove their own car--around 2200 miles in total-- and slept in a local church the whole time.

"He slept on a cot and I slept on an air mattress," says Betty.

They even missed Thanksgiving with their children for the first time, but they say it's worth it.

"We figured those people need us worse," says Jim.

Ministry Evangelism Director Randy Bonner describes their attitude and sacrifice as true volunteer spirit. He's proud of everyone from Bradley County who do what they can.

"Disaster relief brings them together," says Bonner. "The walls drop and they serve and link arms."

Dozens of scrubbings and laundry loads later, Betty says as long as you're healthy age is no excuse.

"Older people can help and we need to help," insists Betty.

"God's always looking for the available, not the capable," adds Jim.

Around 25 volunteers from more than 50 churches in the organization have given of their time since the storm struck. The next group leaves Friday. Bonner says volunteers will continue to go at least through the end of January.

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