LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Some social work students at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park campus recently collected a truck load full of gifts and fixings for a turkey dinner for six families.
"It started out the first year we adopted two families from a local head start, North Gulfport families. That evolved into a contest," USM Clinical Instructor Karen Aderer said.
The friendly competition transformed the project from proving a turkey meal to two families to something much bigger.
"This year we had six families and they are families designated as the least food secure, or who have had illness, or we have grandparents raising grandchildren. We have families who have experienced loss of homes in house fires," Aderer said. "They are designated by the social workers at the Head Start centers."
Students collected everything from toys to free movie tickets, to gift certificates for manicures, hair cuts and even a limousine ride for children to school.
"It's really grown," Aderer said. "This is a great example of what we try to teach our students here at USM in terms of service leadership and showing them the joys of becoming leaders through offering service out in our community. "
The students' generosity has also inspired a local business to adopt a family of their own this Thanksgiving.
"We live in an amazing area here on the Gulf Coast that is very giving and very charitable we are just wowed," Aderer said.