Students from NJ spend spring break helping Nichols residents affected by Hurricane Matthew

NICHOLS, SC (WMBF) - Hurricane Matthew has kept people from their homes a year and a half after it hit the Carolinas.

A group of high school students from Livingston, New Jersey chose the town of Nichols to volunteer their time and help clean up homes. The group spent Thursday in Nichols where the need was.

"The idea that you would have to leave your home and go somewhere else because of a disaster like this is heartbreaking and to think it's been so long ago and people still aren't living in their houses it's really sad," senior Sivan Leivovici said.

Sixteen students from Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School volunteer for their Habitat for Humanity club at school and each year a big volunteer trip is taken. Rabbi Richard Kirsch said, "I purposefully wanted to choose an area like this that doesn't necessarily get all the attention that maybe other areas get."

The town of Nichols is only 50 percent recovered in getting people back home. The town said since Matthew hit out of their disaster relief donation fund, approximately 50 projects have been complete in the town. The fund is $477,519 - half of it has been spent and since it hasn't received enough federal funding, it relies solely on volunteer groups.

The students heard the people's stories who live in Nichols. At the two homes the group worked on, the homeowners weren't able to clean up their yards on their own.

"It was kind of a mess when we came and to see how much work we did is really cool and inspiring to know we are helping an elderly woman," senior Ameerah Ali said.

The particular group said it wanted to serve in Nichols since the Hurricane. Kirsch added, "As soon as I had the conversation with the folks in Nichols and Marion county officials, I knew there was a real need for us here and even a year ago and over the course of the year it didn't go away."

The volunteers agreed the town desperately needs more help after more than a year has gone by. Leivovici said, "I personally love everything we do and to see today we really do make an impact and we can, just small high school students we come out to South Carolina and clean up the yards and it looks so great and I think it's really inspiring to see that even high school students can make such an impact."

Kirsch said it's not just physical work his students do, but an act of kindness. The group will serve in Sellers on Friday before returning home.

Click here to donate or learn how to help the town of Nichols.

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