• 73°

JAX students helping with clean-ups

Brothers Luke and Mark Throwers, are working hard to help pick up the pieces of Jacksonville State University, which was ravaged by a tornado during their spring break.

Luke is a graduate of Andalusia High School and a freshman at JSU, and Mark is a graduate of Graceville High School and is a senior at JSU.

“Our parents have always shown us how important it is to give to others,” Luke said. “They have taken us on local and foreign mission trips so that we could experience serving others.”

The brothers have been in Jacksonville volunteering to help the people that have lost their homes in the storm.

“The devastation left to our university and community still has many of us in shock,” Mark said. “It is a miracle we were on spring break and that there were no fatalities and only a few injuries.”

This catastrophic event caused Luke to think back on one of the stories his grandfather told him.

“A number of years ago when tornados destroyed Joplin, Missouri, my grandmother bought a used minivan and drove it to Sam’s,” Luke said. “He filled every square inch of the van with supplies then drove to Joplin city limits and handed the keys to a local minister. He found his way back home and always said that experience was one he would never forget.”

Luke said that JSU spring semester 2018 is one that he will never forget.

The school is providing students three options to finish the semester.

They can use the current grade earned as the final grade for all classes or selected classes, take an incomplete in all classes or selected classes and finish the classes through the applicable incomplete procedure or complete the semester for all classes or selected classes and complete course requirements.

“We have been told classes will be handled on a case-by-case basis, whatever is best for each student,” Mark said. “I believe I will be taking the current grade as the final grade because I graduate in May.”

Mark has accepted a job in Georgia with Lummus Supply Company and will be an inside sales representative.

Luke said that he will take the current grade as well.

Several organizations, universities and volunteers have come to Jacksonville over the past week and have been helping with the damage.

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been raised and we have had over 40,000 volunteers in the last week,” Mark said. “I knew this was the friendliest campus in the south, but after seeing everyone come together I’ve seen more than a community. I’ve seen a family.”

April Thrower, the boys’ mother, said that this memory is not a stopping point for their college years but only a big bump in the road.

“God is working through this tragedy to strengthen their faith, compassion and generosity towards others,” April said.

JSU held a press conference Wednesday announcing that the campus will remain closed until Mon., April 2, so that crews can continue to repair damage caused by the tornado.