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SEU Offers "Hope for the Bahamas"

Southeastern University students raised $24,000 to purchase items for 1,000 hygiene kits to send to the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian.
When Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas, Southeastern University students in Lakeland, Florida, were quick to respond. They launched an initiative, Hope for the Bahamas, and raised $24,000 in a matter of hours. During the Sept. 9 night chapel services, students prayed for fellow students and others who were affected by the storm. They also took up a special offering to help with relief efforts.

With the funds raised through Hope for the Bahamas, students were able to purchase items to put together 1,000 hygiene kits to send to the Bahamas in partnership with Convoy of Hope. Students assembled the kits on Friday, filling bags with a towel, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, soap and shampoo. In addition to the kits, students wrote over 2,000 personalized notes to send to the churches of their fellow Bahamian students. The students also collected supplies and non-perishable goods during home athletic games and chapel services.

“When someone in our community faces tragedy, we face it with them,” said Dr. Kent Ingle, president of Southeastern. “As we heard the stories of our students and so many others affected by Hurricane Dorian, it was imperative that we quickly respond. I am proud of our SEU community members for coming alongside those who were impacted by the storm.”

Southeastern has 12 students enrolled in the university who are from the Bahamas. One of those students, Jody Whymns, was in the Bahamas when Hurricane Dorian hit.

“On Friday morning, I left Southeastern due to the storm. At that point, it was expected to hit Florida pretty bad,” said Whymns, a graduate student who is from Nassau. “When I arrived home, it was chaos. Stores were empty. The gas stations were filled with people. People were preparing for the storm because we weren’t exactly sure when the storm would be hitting.”

The storm finally hit on Monday morning. The hurricane made landfall as a Category 5, registering winds of more than 185 miles per hour and sitting on the islands for nearly two days.

“Although Nassau was not a direct hit for Dorian, we did experience some issues. We experienced lots of rain, flooding and a lot of power outages. There were roads that were completely flooded, cars weren’t able to pass. There were houses that experienced flooding. People had to evacuate,” she said.

Whymns and her family survived the storm. She recalls listening to the radio when the power went out, hearing people call for help for their families. Whymns’ uncles were initially among the missing. One of her uncles lived in Abaco and the other in Grand Bahama. They lost everything they owned. Her best friend lives in Abaco and had to swim through several feet of water, holding onto bushes to find shelter.

Following the storm, Whymns and her mother gathered extra clothes they had and took them to the Red Cross to help others affected. “The people need help. They need everything and anything at this point,” said Whymns.

Now back in Florida, Whymns is partnering with Southeastern and other students to continually help those affected by the storm. Although Whymns shares it will take years for life to return to normal in the Bahamas, she expresses how thankful she is for the support her country has received.

“We are very grateful for all of the help we have received because we realize that we couldn’t do this alone,” said Whymns.