Florida Students Spend Holiday Break Rebuilding Biloxi Homes

It's just days before Christmas, and a group of college students is far from home. The students drove all the way from Miami, to help rebuild homes in South Mississippi.

Lucia Goyan gave up her Thanksgiving holiday last year to gut houses in Biloxi. This week, she's giving up her Christmas break and time with friends to plaster sheet rock.

"Oh, they were like, 'You're leaving us for Mississippi? Why don't you ever stay home?'" says Lucia Goyan. "I helped organize this trip, because I want to come back and see what the progress was like and really I knew they still needed help."

The ten students are part of the Alternative Spring Break program at Florida International University.

"People appreciate it, so I feel like I am making a difference," says Matilda Bilstein.

They're not out shopping or partying, but that's okay. The students are singing their own Christmas songs.  The music is merry, and the laughs are jolly.

"I'm having much more fun here than I would at home," says Goyan. "We're having a great time. The person whose house we worked on last night, his name's Gary, and he actually took us out to lunch because he's just so appreciative. He bought us some Popeye's. We had a beach picnic. It's really great. It's been wonderful."

Best of all, the students are giving homeowners a precious gift - the gift of hope.

"Help them welcome the season," says Lucia. "Whether they can move into the house or not, at least there's progress during the holidays. So they feel they'll move in soon."

"I think it's enriching the actual holiday experience in a way," says Matilda. "Because you're helping others. It's what the holidays are all about."

The students had to pay a fee and hold fundraisers for the trip. They may return in the spring.