Live oak trees planted at Ohr-O'Keefe Museum for United Way's Day of Caring

Live oak trees planted at Ohr-O'Keefe Museum for United Way's Day of Caring

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - As part of United Way's Day of Caring, volunteers in Biloxi did their part to give back to the community by planting live oak trees at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum Friday.

"When we originally thought out the design with the museum it was dancing with the trees, and so the museum was placed within the trees. Then, when Hurricane Katrina came, we lost all the trees that made this place relevant," Carol Messer, the museum's assistant director.

More than 20 volunteers spent part of their morning at the museum replanting five of the 18 trees that were lost on the property to Hurricane Katrina.

"Biloxi's known for its oak trees and so, again, to be able to replenish the oak trees that are so important to Biloxi, we feel very honored," Messer said.

"You know the oaks lined the Mississippi Gulf Coast. They're icons of Mississippi and the live oaks here are a sign of resilience, just like all of the people along the Mississippi Gulf Coast," Biloxi District Manager Stephen Schruff said.

Of course, there's a certain way to plant these live oaks. Mark LaSalle, Director of the Pascagoula Audubon Center, was there to share his tree planting knowledge.

"You don't have to plant a big tree to get a big tree in a lifetime.You can plant these small trees that we have here, and they'll catch up to some of larger potted trees," LaSalle said.

He said in as soon as five years, these four to five foot live oak trees will stand as tall as the ones that weren't destroyed by the storm and can still be seen outside of the museum.

"It's part of our culture. I mean, people love these trees. People come to South Mississippi to see our oaks," LaSalle said.

Messer said this project is just the beginning of many beautification projects that will get the museum back to how it used to be. They'll continue replanting live oak trees until all 18 are back standing.

If you'd like to get involved, the museum is accepting sponsors for 13 more oaks. If you're interested in being a sponsor, contact Carol Messer at (228) 374-5547.

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