Stennis Navy honors MLK by helping Waveland children

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - The national holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is Monday, but January 15th is his birthday. To honor the civil rights leader, Navy personnel from Stennis Space Center left their offices Wednesday to volunteer at MLK Park in Waveland. It's their way to help keep King's dream of service to community alive.

The Navy's meteorology, oceanography and warfare commands at Stennis Space Center hope their hard work will put smiles on the faces of the children who use Waveland's MLK park. Almost three dozen Naval personal pruned trees and shrubs, picked up trash and made repairs to aging playground equipment.

"The purpose was to have this park in good shape so that when the community came together on the MKL holiday on Monday, the park would be in great shape. So there was a lot of enthusiasm this project," said Andrew Ribar, The Navy's Community Relations Coordinator.

The rank and file were more than happy to give of their time and labor.

"I felt like it was a great opportunity to help the community in which I'm now a part of," said John Hetrick, with the Navy.

His co-worker Alisha Mitchell, echoed his words. "It's really nice to come out and remind yourself why we do what we do and why we joined the Navy. We joined the Navy to defend our country. Kids are our next generation; they're the ones we're defending."

It was work that would have taken Waveland's two-man parks and recreation crew, days to do.

"We appreciated it. Without the 35 hands, we could not have accomplished all of this," said Willie Moody, Waveland Parks & Recreation Director.

The facelift Martin Luther King Park is getting comes on what would have been the late civil rights leader's 85th Birthday.

"We knew that we wanted to keep the spirit of service going, and instead of just reading an article or sitting at our office and thinking about it, we wanted to get out and do something," Ribar said.

Park leaders say that something has created a safer and more beautiful place for kids to play.

The Navy volunteers will return to the park in a couple of month to paint playground equipment.

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