Spring breakers spruce up new home for Pass Christian children

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS   (WLOX) -  They worked alongside contractors Thursday, cleaning-up the Qatar Center. The multi-million dollar building is the new home of the Boys and Girls Club of Pass Christian. With the grand opening coming up in May, the ten college students wanted the facility to look perfect for the children.

"We've been cleaning and mopping for days.  And yesterday, we put together an air hockey table so, ooh ooh!" said a very excited Mattie Robertson.

The volunteers came from various universities, including Nevada, Texas, and Iowa.  They signed-up for the United Way Alternative Spring Break to help a community in need.

"Just to see the destruction of Hurricane Katrina and what people are struggling with now," said Kristina Colyer of Nevada.  "Personally, I didn't know that this was still going on until I got here."

"I think we really lucked out though. I mean this experience, they tell us, 'Thank you so much.'  All the representatives of the Boys and Girls Club don't understand how they're impacting our lives too," said Shrader.

Students weren't the only volunteers.  Eric Braun is a second grade teacher from Billings, Montana.  This is his third trip to south Mississippi.

"I think the children were the most innocent of victims because they were all completely uprooted," said Braun.  "It's a very humbling experience. I don't think I can imagine what it would be like to go to my school and see that everything was gone or damaged or ruined."

That's why the volunteers are so thrilled for the children, who will soon have a beautiful place to play and learn.

"I can only imagine how excited their faces are going to be when they walk in here and are like, 'Oh my gosh, we came from nothing to this,'" said Robertson.  "It's just a great place to be with your peers, and I'm just excited that I could help."

Other spring break volunteers with United Way are rebuilding homes in Pass Christian and mentoring children in East Biloxi.  Another team is conducting a survey to assess needs in the local community.

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