After Coping With Katrina, Students Finally Enjoy Fun-Filled Day - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/18/05

After Coping With Katrina, Students Finally Enjoy Fun-Filled Day

As soon as they heard the signal "One, two, three, go," the children ran, jumped and climbed.

Milner Stadium in Gulfport turned into a huge, bouncy playground as thousands of children in the Gulfport School District enjoyed a "Katrina Blow-out" Tuesday. But underneath many of the young, smiling faces is a lot of pain.

"There's plenty of soap, and there's plenty of shampoo. But there hasn't been a lot joy for the kids. We still have a lot of kids who are sleeping in tents. No water and no power. I'm seeing sad, sad kids," said school nurse Jo Johns.

The entire community of Summit County, Colorado, wanted to reach out to the children.

"Just like everybody else, we saw the news and saw this tragic thing happen down here," said Scott Wilson.

Wilson owns "The Big Red Bus," a non-profit company that entertains children at no charge. Over the weekend, Wilson, and a group of volunteers, rolled into Gulfport to deliver some cheer.

"Thought we'd come from the mountains, down to the sea, from the highest to the lowest to say 'hey we care, and we love you and we want to help,'" said Wilson.

So, at least for one day, the children get to groove, and enjoy the sweet things in life. They also get to rediscover what it means to be a kid again.

Fourth grader Eric Newsome really liked the rides.

"It's good, very good," said Eric. When asked if it's been awhile since he had seen something like this and he responded "Yes, ma'am."

"This is the best thing they ever did," said fourth grader Alexandria Bass.

"They'll be able to go home and talk to their parents about it today, and they'll share that joy. Maybe it's one day. But it's one day they got through a little bit easier," said nurse Jo Johns.

It's also been a rewarding experience for the volunteers.

"I believe with my whole heart, should some kind of tragedy, God forbid, happen to us, we believe this community would come to us," Wilson said.

Besides hosting the "Katrina Blowout," the Colorado volunteers also donated $30,000 worth of food and clothing to the teachers who've lost their homes and school supplies to the children.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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