Columbia, MS (WLOX) - The day begins with breakfast. Then, it's time to hit the streets, offering help, but not before a prayer asking for guidance and safety.
Chainsaws are fired up and the real work begins. It's hard. Chris Chiles is the Hope Reigns Director.
"We come in and just clean up debris, cut trees down and get people's belongings out to the curb, pick through there and try and find and give them their personal belongings back," Chiles explained.
Houses that can't be repaired are torn down. When that happens, hearts grow heavy, but the work goes on.
Why are they here, working in bitter cold? Social media played a role, according to volunteer John Thompson.
"We've been on various mission trips, our group from Ohio, New Point Community Church. We networked through Facebook. We heard about the disaster, the tornado here before Christmas, so we got a group of guys together real quick and headed this way," Thompson recalled.
The task is daunting with so much debris left behind by the killer twister. For the volunteers, it's a special calling. One of them is Karissa Merical.
"Honestly, whenever we help people here they call us a blessing, but I feel like I'm getting more out of it. I feel blessed by the opportunity to help others. It's something that God has put in our soul," Merical said.
The volunteers from Hope Reigns come from across the country, and they all come for different reasons. Their basic reason is the need to help others.
However, one volunteer had a very special connection. His name is Jimmy Lowery.
"I was born in this town some 70 years ago, and I've lived away from here the last 40 years, but I felt a need to come back and give to the home folks that gave a lot to me over the years I lived here," Lowery said.
Giving back something that was almost lost 16 days ago; hope.
Hope Reigns is based in Tupelo where the organization was formed several years ago when tornados tore through that city. The volunteers say they'll be in Columbia for at least the next several days before heading home.