HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - A week after a destructive tornado tore through the Pine Belt, Hattiesburg residents are making strides with cleanup.
But one group of South Mississippi volunteers aren't filling up trash bags with debris. Instead, they are filling the bellies of the hundreds of volunteers and disaster victims.
"To be honest, I have a 9 year old and a friend of mine and just to hear the gasps in the car with me, I felt it...it's just heart wrenching," said Christi Alise, president of Gulf Coast Produce Distributors, Inc.
The company put together a team of businesses from the Coast and New Orleans to volunteer by cooking up hamburgers, hotdogs, gumbo and sausage. Organizers with the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service say volunteer assistance immediately after a disaster is always really strong, but the help tapers off several days later.
"We are so thankful to have groups like these that come up and remember the volunteers and feed them. The volunteers appreciate it so much," said Interim Executive Director Volunteer Mississippi Monica Ritchie.
Fresh off cleaning up a piece of property, dozens took a break to enjoy a hot meal. The group hopes to make another trip to host another feeding in the next few days.
Along with Gulf Coast Produce Distributors, the Silver Slipper Casino, Bernie's Restaurant, Mississippi Power, Cresco, Suncoast Business Supply, Assured Partners Gulf Coast, M&M Shrimp, Budweiser, Dat Dog, Lady of Fatima church all contributed.
Any groups or individuals interested in volunteering must go through the appropriate channels to do so. If you are interested in donating food, contact the United Way of South East Mississippi.
Those interested in volunteering are asked to call the volunteer response center at 601-606-3523.