Pennsylvania volunteers serve up tasty treat to Gulfport kids

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Mercy Housing and Human Development in Gulfport is known for its home rebuilding projects.    On Thursday, the non-profit organization hosted a unique Katrina recovery program called "Kooking with Kids."

"We want them to experience how much fun it is and how delicious it is when you put the effort into making those healthy meals," said Executive Director Sarah Landry.

The menu sounded fancy: Cheeseburger Chowder, Spring Rolls, Pecan Salad, and Pineapple Sponge Cake and Strawberry Smoothies for dessert.

The chefs in the class are culinary students from Mercy Vocational High School in Philadelphia, PA. For the volunteers, the chance to share their cooking skills with a group of Gulfport children was just too tempting.

"I love kids, and my brother and sister are their age, and I can really relate to them. And I love cooking for people, making people smile. So hopefully they enjoyed it," said April Miller, a junior at Mercy Vocational High.

"So much of what these students help us do is surrounded by the sadness and the difficulty of recovering from Katrina and this is such a happy, fun thing," said Landry.

This is the school's sixth time spending spring break in South Mississippi. The school had to raise $20,000 to cover the cost of the trip and the drive takes about 20 hours.

"There are disasters. There's Japan. There are tornadoes. But I still think this is important. They need to know they're not forgotten and people are always going to come back to help," said Max Alberto, a senior at Mercy Vocational High.

Judging from the smiles and requests for seconds, the children seemed to appreciate the taste of hospitality from the city of brotherly love.

"We don't have chowder down here. We have soup and gumbo and all that stuff. I think it's really good for a first time try," said 12-year-old Ashley Watts.

The culinary students are part of a group of 20 volunteers and several chaperones from Mercy Vocational High School.  They are here through next Thursday to help with minor repairs and other home rebuilding projects.

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