MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Instead of taking the day off to enjoy the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday, dozens of volunteers instead walked the neighborhoods of two Jackson County cities, Monday. They carried with them a message that could save lives in the event of a house fire.
The mission began with a training session and the question, 'Why do this on a holiday?' Dr. Romeatrius Moss, the event organizer, has the answer.
"Because it's a day on, not off. And to have an event that you can do to really give yourself to community, there really is no other way to do it besides doing something where you're going out into the community and having a conversation about fire prevention," Moss explained.
Those involved are passionate about the project. One of them is Isaiah Hayes.
"I am a resident of Moss Point, as well as a preacher in Moss Point, so giving back to the community is something that I feel is the calling in my life," Hayes said.
Time to burn some shoe leather, going door to door. If no one answers, information is left anyway.
In Mississippi, the state with the highest per capita death rate by fire in the nation, tragedies such as the one off River Road in Moss Point that took a life two and a half weeks ago, could be avoided.
"It's real important for us to reach out to our citizens and our communities. Since 2007, there have been 22 fire deaths in Jackson County alone. Eight of those, sadly to say, in Moss Point, so it's a chance for us to reach out and educate our citizens," Moss Point Fire Chief Tommy Posey said.
Volunteers knock on the door of the home of Mary McCusker, who is happy to see them and talks about her smoke detectors.
"Oh yeah, that and we've got the cameras. A Marine lives here. This is Fort Knox," McCusker told the group at her front door.
But the mood turns quickly when she remembers her neighbor and friend who died in the fire across the street.
"You just appreciate life. It puts it into perspective to see the rest of their life lying out on the street."
By the end of the afternoon, the volunteers head home knowing they may have just saved someone's life sometime in the future.
Monday's event was sponsored by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Black Nurses Association, with help from the Red Cross and United Way. In addition to Moss Point, volunteers canvassed several neighborhoods in the city of Gautier talking about fire safety and prevention.