PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - One veteran celebrated Christmas early after Habitat for Humanity presented him with a place to call home.
Gilbert Pfisterer, a World War II Merchant Marine, had been living in poor conditions for 12 years. However, thanks to thousands of helping hands, Pfisterer can finally close that part of his life for good.
"This is about like winning the lottery," he said after arriving to the ceremony. "It's so improbable. It's the last thing in the world ... it came out of nowhere."
Matt Ladner met "Mr. Gilbert" in August when he stopped to help Gilbert fix his broken down car. He was soon inspired to help him find a new home.
"When we first met to see him in those conditions, that's what really moved this whole effort," Ladner said. "You just can leave somebody in those conditions. So, you want to help them and better them, and this is a great opportunity to do it."
From there, Ladner went to work.
"We started getting volunteers and everything just started coming together," Ladner said. "I couldn't have planned it any better. To be honest, it's exhausting but so rewarding."
Bay Waveland Area Habitat for Humanity was a big part of the effort.
"It's what Habitat is all about," said Carlotta Arnsdorff, president of the Habitat board. "Volunteers from all over, different walks of life. People who pray, people who donate money. It's just a good feeling and I'm happy to be here and be part of this today."
The house dedication and blessing drew only a few of the many who put in time, effort and prayers.
"It's beyond humbling," Ladner said. "Just to see the love of God flowing through love of neighbors. I can't even tell you the words. It's absolutely humbling."
Pfisterer was a Merchant Marine veteran in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War.
In February, he'll turn 92 years old.