Students work for tornado victims
Students at the Franklin County Career Technical Center have been using their experience and training to give back to the community and help others who are in need.
Since the beginning of the school year, students in Richard Graben’s building technology classes have been building cabinets for families in Phil Campbell who lost their homes on April 27.
The students build the cabinets for cost, charging nothing for their labor or time, and in doing so have provided beautiful, custom cabinets that the families might not have been able to purchase otherwise.
The project is something Graben came up with as a way for his students to gain real-life, hands-on experience while helping out the community at the same time.
“I live in Phil Campbell and the tornado missed our home by about a block so I have seen first-hand what people in our town have gone through and how there are so many different needs,” he said. “We also had two students who were in the direct path of the tornado. One was thrown into a field and the other was in the bathroom of his home that ended up being the only thing left standing once the tornado was gone, so we knew how people were hurting.
“When the tornado came through in 1974, I was working construction at the time and I was able to help rebuild 13 houses, so I wanted to find a way for my students to be able to help in a similar way because I knew it would be meaningful for them.”
Graben said his students spent about a week working disaster relief stations after the tornado hit and he wanted to be able to continue providing assistance throughout the year.
“Just because it’s been nine months doesn’t mean there still aren’t needs,” he said. “When I told the students about the project they were more than willing to participate and I’m proud of them for the way they have jumped in there and wanted to help out. They are very passionate kids towards people that are in need.”
Graben said they have completed two full sets of cabinets so far and are planning to complete a third set by the end of the school year.
“The students have really done a good job with these cabinets and many people have commented on their workmanship and the quality of the cabinets,” he said. “They are not only helping others but they’re also learning skills that will be with them their whole life.”