GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport Job Corps celebrated its 50th anniversary Monday by helping the community. All 115 students and several staff members took to the streets surrounding the center and picked up the trash along the sides of the road.
"We're just helping clean up the community," said Alexander Alston, who has been the center director of the Gulfport Job Corps for the past five years. He got on board when the center re-opened after Hurricane Katrina.
Since the Corps focuses on extending a helping hand, he said a great way to celebrate half a century is to take care of neighbors.
"We want to make sure we do everything we can to keep our center clean, and we like to see the community the same at all times," said Alston.
The free program helps young people, age 16-24, earn diplomas and GEDs, and learn a trade to get into the workforce. Even though the center was closed for about four years after Katrina, it has come back in a big way. Alston attributes that to the alumni.
"We have folks who complete the program and they are in all walks of life out working, and they do a great job of that. They do a great job of letting everybody know that Job Corps works," said Alston.
Britney Williams has only been a student in the program for a month, and hopes to be an alumna soon. She enjoys being able to give back to those who helped her.
"We're just showing appreciation and we're just thanking them for helping us and the fundraisers and everything they do for us, so I really appreciate it," said Williams.
The Job Corps will be celebrating throughout the rest of the week. Wednesday will be an open house, there's a blood drive on Thursday, and the week will wrap up with a graduation ceremony Friday.