LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - More than 50 USM Gulf Coast students put down their books and pens and picked-up paint brushes, brooms, and shovels. On Friday, they took part in a university-wide service project called "The Big Event." The volunteers helped beautify properties and inspired others in the community.
They vacuumed, dusted, and cleaned the rest rooms and toys. Those are not the kinds of chores many young people would enjoy doing on a Friday morning.
"Most of them are stuff we do at home, like clean the refrigerator and pulling weeds. It's stuff that our mom wants us to do at home, but we don't do at home. We'll come do it here. It's okay," said USM Senior Shelby McGrew.
The USM students volunteered to do some spring cleaning at Gulf Coast Community Ministries in Gulfport. The service project showcased the university's commitment to volunteerism.
"It's just a chance for the students to have fun outside of class and also give back to the community," said McGrew.
"We were absolutely thrilled," said Pamela Baker, Gulf Coast Community Ministries Board Chairperson. "When they finished cleaning the maintenance closet, I just walked in and looked and I thought, 'This can't be the same place.' They've just completely reorganized everything."
Over at the Gulf Park campus, students, their children, and friends painted inspirational quotes on canvas.
"I'm going to draw the hands of the future, and draw little polka dots and hearts all over it," said one girl.
The "DREAM Painting Project" was for the Child Development Center on the Hattiesburg campus, which was destroyed by a tornado in February.
"Before, they had a lot of artwork hanging on the walls. So now when they rebuild, instead of having bare walls, they'll have lots of canvases to hang up," said USM Student Leader Whitney Ward.
The amateur artists created 60 paintings, surpassing their goal of 40. From lifting up spirits to sprucing up properties, the volunteers have left their mark on their community.
"We quite enjoy it, especially to know we're helping people who desperately need it. They need the volunteers. They need the extra hands," said McGrew.
A group of USM volunteers also spent the day in Bay St. Louis. The students planted more than 50,000 daffodil bulbs that will be used to landscape Habitat for Humanity homes.