Monty Tech JROTC Will Lend a Hand in Texas
FITCHBURG -- A 10-mile walk will make a much longer journey possible for 50 Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School students.
Over February break, these students will fly to Wharton, Texas where they plan to participate in efforts to rebuild the 8,700-person town following the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey this August.
“At formation, Sgt. Jornet asked us if we wanted to participate in recovery,” said Rebecca Whittier, a junior and Lunenburg resident involved in the school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
They said yes.
Sgt. Paul Jornet -- the school’s Cadet Corporal and former U.S. Marine -- said 50 cadets and 11 parents will fly to Houston then drive about 50 miles southwest to Wharton.
“We’re going to be doing a lot of renovations,” said Alex Sweet, who studies house carpentry student at Monty Tech.
The trip will be paid for through a $44,000 grant from the U.S. Marine Corps. The supplies and tools will be funded through the student’s own fundraising efforts.
As of Thursday afternoon, Jornet said the students raised $40,109, far exceeding the initial $30,000 goal.
Much of the money was raised through sponsorships from the annual 10-mile “March-A-Thon,” which took students on a loop from the school through Westminster last month.
Sweet, a Fitchburg resident, was the biggest fundraiser, securing $4,960 in donations.
“It feels like once things are on the news people worry about it for about a week and then it goes away,” he said. “People don’t realize what is still happening down there, what difference can be made if the community came together to help.”
For a week, Monty Tech cadets will collaborate with students from Wharton High School on the building and renovation project.
In 2014, Jornet said he participated in a walk to honor Master Sergeant Michael Pena that took him through Wharton.
“We’re walking the back roads of Texas in this community seeing the pride the community had for him, but also how impoverished it was,” he said. “There wasn’t much there. I knew being so remote that they were, that they wouldn’t get the same type of attention that Houston itself is getting.”
He said over half of the city’s population, about 5,000 people, were directly affected by flooding.
Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter @DobbinsSentinel.