Student leads relief mission to Harveyville

By Bryan Richardson

Who did you help on Friday? Twenty-eight Manhattan youth spent the day providing relief effort in Harveyville after last week’s tornado.

The group, consisting of middle school students to college students, planned on working from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. cleaning up debris as more home demolitions occurred.

Manhattan High sophomore Wesley Garibay helped make the trip possible, lining up assistance from both his church, First Presbyterian, and his Boy Scout Troop 74. He hustled Friday morning in the First Presbyterian parking lot making calls and gathering permission slips.

“After I found out about the tornado hitting there last Tuesday night, I felt they needed our help,” Garibay said.

The EF-2 tornado struck the small town of about 275 people near Topeka on the night of Feb. 28. The tornado destroyed 40 to 60 percent of Harveyville’s structures.

Garibay spoke with his youth leader about helping out. “He was trying to put it together, but it wasn’t really coming along,” he said. “So I organized everything myself, so it would be possible for us to go.”

Wesley’s father, Enrique Garibay, said he sat down with his son to develop a checklist. “It was more of just talking strategy together,” Enrique said. “The ideas came from him, the work came from him and the promotion came from him.”

Enrique and three other adults also went on the trip to supervise the students. Troop 74 provided the bus to take the students to Harveyville, and First Presbyterian provided money for gas.

Garibay sent an email out to the scout troop, set up a Facebook event and used word-of-mouth to inform students about the trip. He said he was surprised at the number of people who signed up.

“It wasn’t a very big notice,” he said. “We started working on this (last) Friday night. I wasn’t expecting very many people wanting to help.”

Garibay, an Eagle Scout, is active in the church and does volunteer efforts with the Scouts. He said this is the first time he’s put something this big together, thanking the church and Scouts for their support.

“I’ve always grown up learning not to be selfish,” he said. “Everything I’ve learned in my church youth group and Boy Scouts has pushed me to this.”

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