PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - Nearly nine months after Hurricane Ian devastated communities in Southwest Florida, so much work needs to be done, and the hard-hit communities are getting help from a former NFL player and young volunteers.
The Ryan Nece Foundation decided to head to Charlotte County to help in the recovery efforts for its annual student service program trip.
Members of the Ryan Nece Foundation laying the foundation for a new building
One of their first projects included sprucing up Punta Gorda's History Park Community Garden.
Student volunteers with the Ryan Nece Foundation.
"The hurricane hit and destroyed so much of our garden, we probably had 20 trees down, fencing down we didn't think we'd be able to have the garden again," said TEAM Punta Gorda Board President, Sandy Dressler.
An older generation of folks typically runs the grounds.
So, students helped lift those downed fences and filled new beds with fresh soil and plants.
Former Buccaneer Ryan Nece supervises student volunteers helping with Hurricane Ian clean up.
"We really needed their help and appreciated their help," Dressler added. 'There's no way we could've gotten this done. It would have been hours of hard labor for us."
They also helped build a home for a displaced family, laying the foundation and raising the first exterior walls alongside volunteers with Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity.
Student volunteers with the Ryan Nece Foundation help build a home with Habitat for Humanity.
"It felt great when we put up all the walls of the house, and it was coming together, and it felt great because I helped build that," said RNF Volunteer student Nishra.
Former Bucs linebacker and the organization's Founder, Ryan Nece, is chaperoning himself and stressed how significant opportunities like this are in shaping students' futures as leaders who can always make time to give back.
Student volunteers with the Ryan Nece Foundation help rebuild a community garden destroyed by Hurricane Ian.
"The power in them, the courage to unlock that power to serve others, it happens right here on these trips," Nece stressed. :"It's amazing to watch students get excited about the opportunity to really embrace what the power of giving is all about."
To learn more about the foundation, click here.