Some Florida teens say the help they received after Hurricane Ivan inspired them to pay it forward here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Dozens of Pensacola High School students spent Friday landscaping the combined campus of Delisle and Pass Christian Elementary Schools.
The students say they know the deep hurt that follows a devastating hurricane, and they hope to ease some of that pain for Pass Christian's children by planting beautiful plants and flowers.
"I think it's been a great experience speaking with the kids and seeing how excited they are making their school a better place," Yasmine Cara said.
The students formed Project Katrina after seeing Katrina's destruction.
"We can sympathize totally with what these people are going through," said Mark Halvorson. "We were without power for weeks. No food. No water except MREs. So, we felt a kinship with the people."
Phoung Hatch came up with the idea for Project Katrina.
"We're still trying to recover everything back the way it was in Pensacola, so we know how it is with a hurricane. So devastating. "
The teens say they also felt compelled to help because of the kindness they've been shown.
"After Ivan, there was a lot of volunteers come and help us, and it just bettered our community and everything else," said Cara. "That kind of taught us that we should be helping others."
The students look forward to the day when both Pass Christian and Pensacola children can feel good about the condition of their schools again.
Mark Halvorson said, "We have a lot of damage. Our gym still hasn't been constructed yet. It's nice to be able to do something for somebody, at least, and help someone that has been affected in the same way we have. It's good. Kids deserve to have a nice school."
The Pensacola students presented a check for $1,000 to Pass Christian Elementary. The money came from selling t-shirts and pins shaped like magnolias. The teens have done several other projects in the state.