Helping a Friend in Need
MOUNT OLIVE –When Hurricane Marie struck on September 18, University of Mount Olive (UMO) senior and Commonwealth of Dominica native, Kenia Williams, felt helpless. Her family was thousands of miles away without fresh water or power, and surrounded by devastation.
“At first I felt really helpless,” Williams said. “It’s kind of like, you wish it were you instead of them, but you know they would be wishing the same thing. As soon as I found out they were okay, I sprang into action.”
Williams did the one thing she could from so far away. She setup a GoFundMe page to rally financial support from her UMO friends and family.
“I have never felt so warm and welcomed by people,” Williams said. “There’s this southern hospitality, that you don’t get anywhere else but North Carolina. The people in North Carolina. are very open, and I can say they are willing to help you as soon as they see that you need that help.”
Within a week of setting up the GoFundMe page, Williams had reached her goal of $1,000.
“People were contributing and sharing nonstop,” she said. “It was just miraculous how quick everything came together. Because I was thinking it would be maybe two or three weeks. But within a week, I was at my goal. It was so heartwarming to see that everyone was willing to contribute anyway that they possibly could.”
Williams used the money to purchase staples for her family.
“I had an idea in my head of what they would need. Especially right now, considering there’s no power,” she said.
Williams bought rice, pasta, medical care products like Band-Aids and hydrogen peroxide, personal hygiene products like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and deodorant, canned foods like tuna and beans. She packaged the items in empty Mt. Olive Pickle barrels. The barrels will be picked up this Friday and transported by container ship to the Commonwealth of Dominica. It will take about a week to arrive.
Chair of the Department of Psychology Dr. Natalie Kemp said, “It blessed me to see how we can take small amounts and put them together for the larger good. When everyone is able to just give a little, the work is done quickly and eases the burden of a group. It was such a blessing to watch our traditional students respond to the needs of others across the miles.”
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.