By M. Scott Morris
TUPELO – In response to the April 28 tornado, a volunteer organization that’s helped people all over the country will turn its focus toward home.
Eight Days of Hope was formed in Tupelo in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Since 2005, the group has mobilized more than 13,700 volunteers to help disaster victims rebuild.
“We’ll do between $4 and $6 million dollars worth of work in Tupelo and the Auburn community,” said Steve Tybor III, president and founder of Eight Days of Hope.
On Friday, he announced that the Christian organization will direct its efforts on July 12-19. Volunteers with a variety of skill sets, including roofing and carpentry, will pay their way to Tupelo.
Once here, they’ll get free lodging and food, and they’ll put their skills to work helping the uninsured and under-insured get their homes back in order.
“The community said, ‘We want you. We need you,’” Tybor said, “and God told us clearly that we need to be here.”
The 501(c)3 organization served Tupelo earlier this year by helping with the Build for Beth campaign, which renovated the home of Beth Stauffer, the widow of slain Tupelo Police Sgt. Gale Stauffer.
“That gave us our introduction to the city,” said Wayne Vanlandingham, vice president. “Who knew we’d be back here with a disaster?”
Mayor Jason Shelton said that past experience made it a simple decision to accept the group’s offer of assistance.
“It’s a godsend for our people,” Shelton said. “It’s a godsend for our city.”
Community partners include Hope Church, Calvary Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Tupelo, Harrisburg Baptist Church, Auburn Baptist Church, Room to Room Furniture, Tupelo Christian Preparatory School and Tupelo Furniture Market.
Tybor said the effort in Tupelo will require $500,000, and fundraising is underway. People may donate at P.O. Box 3208, Tupelo, MS 38803, or at www.eightdaysofhope.com. It’s an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff.
Tybor said the goal is to give people hope by showing them Christ’s love in action.
“The best sermon I ever heard was the one I saw,” he said.