"That was my wife's Christmas present last year," Frank Strain proudly said as he pointed above the fireplace.
Strain is still amazed the mirror and mantel he built for his wife survived Katrina's flood waters. But just about everything else in his Second Street home was ruined. As a contractor, Strain is using his tools to repair the house he fell in love with 36 years ago.
"It was a two bedroom when I bought it in January 1970," said Frank Strain. "I've been working on it ever since. Now I'm working on it again."
Strain is getting a lot of help from volunteers with Chapel of the Cross, a small Reformed-Episcopal Church in Dallas, Texas. Some are amateur carpenters, like Cynthia Bucy. This is her second relief trip to South Mississippi.
"Because the Lord has blessed me within in my life and I've really had no hardships anywhere near like this," said Cynthia Bucy. "And to see that other people can get through it."
For Harry Nicholls, who has played Santa for 25 years back home, it's a chance to grant another wish.
"When you get to help somebody, whether they want it, or need it, or whatever, you're really doing more than anything you can do," Harry Nicholls said. "To me, it's the love of one group to another."
No one was as moved as Frank Strain, who could not find the words to express his deep gratitude to the volunteers who are trying to get his family back in the house again.
Strain said, "This is home for all of us. I moved here from Bolagusa, Louisiana. Never regretted it. Never looked back. Still not going to look back today. We're going to put it back close to what I had it as we possibly can."
Right after Katrina, members of Chapel of the Cross delivered clothing, food and other supplies to South Mississippi. This is their first construction project. The volunteers will leave Saturday, but another team will arrive around Memorial Day to continue their rebuilding mission.