Shannon McDaniel graduated from LHHS in 2008 and is now a senior at Mizzou.

While some Lake Highlands High School graduates were lounging by the pool or waterskiing at the lake Memorial Day, University of Missouri senior Shannon McDaniel felt drawn to Joplin. She’d seen television images from the most destructive single tornado on record, and she felt drawn to help her new neighbors in need.

First, Shannon recruited the girls on the high school pom squad she coaches in Columbia, Missouri help raise money for the Red Cross. The Rock Bridge Bruins contributed $400 to the cause, but Shannon wasn’t finished.

Shannon hopped a volunteer bus to the center of the disaster area, where she joined a team sifting through lumber, metal and tree limbs to find personal items and anything that could be salvaged. In an interview for her Alpha Delta Pi sorority blogsite she recalled, “My initial thought walking through the neighborhood was that it looked like a scene from a movie, a million times worse than it looks on TV. Similar to a war zone. I began to cry especially as we continued walking and saw several families attempting to find personal items amongst all of the debris in what used to be their homes.”

Shannon jumped on a bus with other volunteers and got to work quickly at the center of the devastation.

Later, Shannon volunteered at a donation warehouse, organizing items to be distributed to various shelters. The highlight of her week was the time she spent working inside one of the shelters.

“The most rewarding part of this job was seeing families come in and pick out items. These people literally had nothing but the clothes on their backs, so it was great to see them be able to pick out food and clothing at the shelter.”

And back here at home, it was great to see one of our own representing LH so well.