Kentuckians volunteer during Thanksgiving holiday

NEW JERSEY (WKYT) -- Many people in the northeast are still cleaning up from superstorm Sandy, and they've been getting some help from the bluegrass state.

Nearly two dozen volunteers from Quest Community Church in Lexington left for New Jersey Friday.
We talked to them by phone---and many say the experience is what they're thankful for on this holiday weekend.

Instead of hitting doorbuster deals, 21 members of Quest Community Church gathered early Friday morning, heading straight for New Jersey. Since being there, Alivia Barrett, a volunteer, says seeing the damage first hand is life changing.

"A lot of devastation; it feels like it hit everyone on some level," said Barrett.

With most locals initially demoralized, down and out, Barrett says being in New Jersey has brought change in her life---and the lives of the people the group has helped.

"There's a lot of hope because they're seeing it is larger than themselves," said Barrett. "So you can see a gratefulness that wasn't there before."

The Lexington volunteers have helped gut three homes that were flooded so far, tearing out sheet rock, insulation and flooring.

"People are sore, but that's why we came."

But the best exercise has been in teamwork for this group---and in giving. Spending most of their holiday weekend thankful for the ability to help others.

"We've had a good time together. What we're seeing is families really wanting to get their houses cleaned up. We're getting to know their stories. Thanksgiving was only a few days ago, to all of us, it feels like weeks ago. The holiday for us was here," said Barrett.

The church members will come back to Lexington Wednesday.