A group of nine Boston University students made short work Monday out of a break room at Kentucky State Police Post 3 in Bowling Green, where items donated for eastern Kentucky tornado victims filled the room.

The students, who are participating in the university’s Alternative Spring Break program, which provides community service opportunities, were originally scheduled to help clean an illegal dump site in Hart County. But because of weather conditions and a need to quickly sort and load donated items to be taken to eastern Kentucky, Hart County Office of Emergency Management Director Kerry McDaniel diverted their helping hands to Bowling Green.

The students spent about two hours sorting through donated items, grouping things such as bottled water, diapers, pet food, hand sanitizer, canned food and basic toiletries, and then loading the items into a U-Haul truck that McDaniel’s office rented for the journey to Magoffin County, where 361 homeowners are requesting assistance.

“It’s great to help out our own community in Boston. But it’s even more powerful that we can help out more communities ...,” Boston University sophomore Elizabeth Pettinicchi said. Pettinicchi is originally from Cheshire, Conn.

Pettinicchi and fellow sophomore Chen Cao are co-coordinators for the Kentucky Alternative Spring Break group.

“I love helping out,” Pettinicchi said. “One person doing one thing can make a big difference.”

Cao, who is originally from Newton, Mass., had never been to Kentucky before signing up for the community service program.

“I really like helping out,” Cao said.

Even though the group was scheduled to perform environmental community service, he welcomed Monday’s excursion.

“We are doing something impactful for the community,” he said.

If the students hadn’t been there to help, state troopers would have had to do the work alone instead.

“I want to give a special thanks to the students of Boston University for their hard work and generosity,” Post 3 spokesman Trooper Jonathan Biven said.

Jenny Doucette, a Boston University senior who’s originally from Merrimack, N.H., is also a first-time visitor to Kentucky.

“We are supposed to work in the caves but anywhere we can help in the community, that’s what we’re here to do,” Doucette said. “We’re here to do some service in Kentucky.”

For the remainder of their visit, the group will perform environmental community service in and around the caves in this area.

Anyone who wants to donate to the storm victims has until 4 p.m. today to take donated items to Post 3.

“I’m truly overwhelmed by the generosity of the citizens in this community,” Biven said. “It makes me proud not only to be a Kentuckian but also to be from this community.”

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