Ocean Springs Asks Public To Help Sister City Hit By Tornado

The City of Ocean Springs is reaching out to businesses and citizens to help citizens of The Villages, Florida, who lost about 150 homes in last week's tornado that ravaged Central Florida.

"The Villages is one of our sister cities who came to our aid following Hurricane Katrina," said Mayor Connie Moran.  "They donated over $190,000 in cash plus donations of goods.  Even their high school seniors came to assist our high school teachers who lost their homes."

Doug Tharpe, President of the Homeowners' Association in The Villages--a retirement community of about 60,000 people--reported that citizens are safe and are staying with neighbors until their homes are rebuilt.

"We are doing well, and debris clearing is moving swiftly," Tharpe said.  "We are going to have a fundraiser event soon to help those who lost their belongings."

Moran said Tharpe appreciated the heartfelt concern and prayers of the citizens of Ocean Springs.

"He said one thing we could do would be to donate items for a silent auction for their fundraiser," she said.

Citizens and business owners are invited to contribute any item worth over $25, gift baskets, or donations, which the city will send to The Villages for their event to raise funds.

Anyone interested may bring a donated item or cash donation by noon on Feb. 15th to City Hall (checks payable to Villages Homeowners' Assoc.), P.O. Box 1800, Ocean Springs, MS 39564.

Please contact the mayor's office at 875-6722 for more information.