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Local volunteers return from Hurricane Sandy

ELKHART, Ind.-- David Jenkins is no rookie when it comes to disaster relief. His late October deployment for Hurricane Sandy marked his sixth trip into the eye of the storm's devastation. It all started almost eight years ago.

"I thought that's something that I would really enjoy doing because I had retired and had some time on my hands," said Jenkins, Red Cross volunteer. "And I thought 'Geeze if I could give back to the community that would be wonderful.'"


Fellow volunteers call his job the "cool" job: riding in the ERV or emergency response vehicle. It's that recognizable red truck that's loaded with food.


"Most generally the first person that a client will see in a neighborhood will be an ERV driver," said Jenkins. "And that nice, big red truck coming down the street that's announcing 'Red Cross has a hot meal.'"


While in Queens, he helped feed thousands of hungry people each day. But just a few miles away, another volunteer from Elkhart landed for her first deployment.


"It's a passion. You love it," said Samantha Crooks, Red Cross volunteer. "When you're there you don't want to leave. You forget about everything. You forget about the tourist attractions around you and you get really focused."


Given Samantha's age, she took to social media to share her experience.


"It was really neat and unique that while I was away from my family and friends and local people and everyone here at the Red Cross that I could update them on what I was doing and sort of my first experience," said Crooks.


Now that she's home, she's itching to go back. She says it's thanks to the kindness of the more-experienced volunteers.


"Most of the people were older than I was and I was coming in 25-years-old not knowing what I'm doing and they loved it," said Crooks. "And just because they knew if you're there for the right reason they'll accept anybody."

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